We present a detailed microscopic quantum molecular dynamic analysis of fragment formation in the reaction Ne(1.05 GeV/nucleon) + Au. The theoretical predictions of the total mass yield, the multiplicity distribution of clusters, their average momentum, and their angular distribution agree well with the available data. We find a rather localized hot participant zone, which predominantly emits protons and neutrons. The multiplicity of light clusters depends strongly on the impact parameter whereas the heavier fragments A≥40 result from the decay of spectator residues. Their yield can provide a good measure for the impact parameter. The hypothesis of a compound system of AP and AT nucleons which is globally heated and equilibrated is not supported by our results. Light and massive fragments occupy different regions in phase space. Semiperipheral reactions do not lead to a stopping of the projectile. We observe a power law behavior of the inclusive mass yield distribution. Its form, however, is caused by averaging over different impact parameters. This rules out inclusive mass yield distributions as candidates for revealing a possible liquid gas phase transition. Light and intermediate mass fragments are formed during the early compressional stage of the reaction. We find that the projectile causes a high density wave to travel through the target. It causes the target to fragment and transfers transverse momentum to the intermediate mass fragments. Lighter fragments receive additional momentum transfer due to n-n collisions.