Following the late-race red flags, the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team filed a protest against the Australian Grand Prix’s outcome, arguing that the positions at the last red flag should have been retained instead of the placements at the restart.
Nico Hülkenberg, who was racing fourth on the road behind Carlos Sainz Jr., who would be given a five-second time penalty for colliding with Fernando Alonso at turn one, could have been in line for his first podium finish in the Formula 1 World Championship had Haas’ protest been successful.
Alonso and Lance Stroll would have finished eleventh and twelfth, respectively, and Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Lando Norris, and Oscar Piastri would have benefited.
The red flags came out before the first sector of the lap had been finished, therefore the stewards felt there was no easy way to determine the true running order of the field after extensive discussion following the race.
Because of this, the starting order for the restart served as the starting order for the final lap leading up to the checkered flag. As a result, Hülkenberg finished seventh, with Alonso and Stroll regaining the places of third and fourth.
“Art. 57.3 required that a restart grid order be organized in accordance with order at the: “last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars”,” read the FIA statement.
“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.
“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.”
Pierre Gasly’s penalty for the incident that resulted in him and his BWT Alpine F1 Team teammate Esteban Ocon being thrown into the barriers on the final standing restart was another decision that took a long time to resolve.
For long stretches of the race, Alpine’s Gasly was keeping up with Sainz of Scuderia Ferrari. He would’ve taken fifth place if the race had continued without the red flag.
Gasly, who was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the stewards’ deliberations as he was just two points away from a one-race suspension, is now allowed to race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly), the driver of Car 31 (Esteban Ocon), a team representative and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video and in-car video evidence and determined that it was a first lap racing incident,” read the FIA statement.
“Both cars recognised and accepted this as such. In the circumstances, we took no further action.”