Stewards reject Haas' protest at Australian Grand Prix

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Haas' protest over the result of the Australian Grand Prix has been thrown out by the FIA's stewards, meaning the race classification is now official.

The race finished with two red flags in the last four laps -- the first of which led to a messy restart on lap 57 in which four cars were eliminated and in turn triggered the second one. However, with just one lap left to run the race finished under safety car conditions when it restarted on Lap 58.

The first red flag was caused by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen stopping on track after he clipped the barriers on the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 53. The cars returned to the pits on lap 55 and once the track was clear of debris, they were led back out to the grid by the safety car on Lap 56.

On lap 57 the race restarted but collisions between the two Alpine drivers as well as a separate one between Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries resulted in another red flag.

At the point the red flag came out, Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was up to fourth place as a result of the carnage.

But when the race was restarted again on the 58th and final lap, the order of the cars was based on the grid for the previous restart, minus the cars that crashed out.

That dropped Hulkenberg back to eighth, although he finished seventh once a post-race five-second penalty was applied to Carlos Sainz.

Haas argued that instead of deciding the grid based on the starting order from Lap 57, it should have been based on the order of the cars as they crossed safety car line two, which crosses the track at the pit exit, meaning Hulkenberg would have been one place higher.

However, the stewards denied the protest in a hearing late on Sunday night.

"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," the stewards' said in a statement. "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 line instead. They suggested that if that line was used then the starting grid position of their car would have been different.

"They acknowledged that the GPS data that showed the relative positions of the cars was unreliable for the purpose of establishing the order of cars.

"They 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.

"Art. 57.3 [of the sporting regulations 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"

"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."