Stewards dismiss Haas protest over provisional results of Australian Grand Prix
The stewards at the Australian Grand Prix have dismissed a protest from the Haas team over the provisional results of the race – which saw Max Verstappen claim his first victory at the Albert Park venue.
Sunday's Grand Prix at Melbourne saw a late red flag deployed as Haas's Kevin Magnussen crashed into the Turn 2 barriers, ripping the right-rear wheel off his VF-23. That led to a standing restart in which Carlos Sainz tapped Fernando Alonso into a spin, both Alpines crashed out, and Williams' Logan Sargeant also collected AlphaTauri's Nyck de Vries.
The race was red flagged again and restarted under caution on Lap 58 of 58 – but the order of classification for the restart was reverted to before the previous accident-filled restart had begun.
This is where the result rankled for Haas, with Nico Hulkenberg having made it up to P4 when the final red flag flew – before the rejigging of the order dropped him to seventh in the provisional classification, once Sainz had been handed a five-second post-race penalty.
Haas were summoned to the stewards at 1930 local time, having lodged a protest over the result of Sunday's race on the grounds that it was in breach of Article 57.3 of the Sporting Regulations, which states that in the event of a red flag, “the order will be taken at the last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars” – with the stewards later dismissing their protest.
“In this instance, the race was resumed after another Red Flag incident,” they wrote. “Very shortly thereafter, there was a further Red Flag incident within the first two corners of the resumed race and Race Control had to determine what the order of the grid ought to be for the next restart based on Art 57.3. 8. Race Control determined that the last point at which it was possible to the determine the position of all cars was when the last grid was formed.
“We summoned the Race Director to provide further clarification and he said that in the time available for the continuation of the race, the most reliable point was the last grid, given the data available to him at the time; the relative positions of the cars and the incidents on the track.
“Haas suggested that the relative positions of the cars could be established as at the SC2 [Safety Car 2] line instead. They suggested that if that line was used then the starting grid position of their car would have been different.
“[Haas] acknowledged that the GPS data that showed the relative positions of the cars was unreliable for the purpose of establishing the order of cars.
“[Haas] contended that instead of the last grid that the timing data ought to have been used to establish the order of the cars.
“Having considered all the arguments made, we made the following determination… The decision of Race Control and the Race Director needed to be made promptly; with the exercise of appropriate discretion and by using the most appropriate information available to them at the time.
“In the circumstances, based on what we heard from the FIA representatives and from Haas, we considered that this was in fact done appropriately by the Race Director in this instance and therefore dismiss the protest.”
Hulkenberg’s seventh place nonetheless represented Haas’s best finish so far in 2023, the American team moving to P7 in the constructors’ standings on seven points.