F1 stewards reject Haas protest over Australian GP result

The FIA stewards have rejected Haas’ protest against the result of Formula 1's Australian Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Haas lodged a complaint in the aftermath of the Melbourne event after feeling that the regulations had not been correctly applied in determining the order for the final safety car restart that decided the finishing positions.

A chaotic second red flag restart had brought about another stoppage, and F1's race control decided to determine the running order based to how the cars were before the grid was formed – rather than how things shook out early on that lap.

This was based on Article 57.3 of the Sporting Regulations that states the order for restarts: “will be taken at the last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars.”

The FIA felt that this could not be established for all cars based on that restart as not everyone completed a timing sector.

However, Haas argued that it should have been possible to do it from Safety Car line 2, which is at the exit of the pits before Turn 1, as all cars had got through there on the run away from the line.

Had the positions been taken there, then it would have meant its driver Nico Hulkenberg would have been classified seventh ahead of Lando Norris.

Interestingly, other drivers were also in a different position at SC2 than they were at the start – including Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Following a stewards hearing where F1 race director Niels Wittich was called, he explained that in terms of the time available to allow the race to continue, the most sensible point to determine the order was the previous grid rather than trying to work it out another way.

Both he and Haas agreed that using GPS data to determine the order at the safety car line was not completely reliable.

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In the end, the stewards felt that in the interests of keeping the grand prix running as promptly as possible, it was best to use the starting grid as the restart order.

A statement from the stewards said: “This determination needed to be done in the context of a timed race event and therefore 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.”

Furthermore, it is understood that setting a precedent to allow the safety car line to be used for a restart order could encourage drivers to take greater risks in future getting ahead of rivals, just in case there is a red flag in repeat circumstances.

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