Haas unsuccessful after launching post-race Australian GP protest

Jamie Woodhouse
Nico Hulkenberg drives Haas VF-23. Australia, April 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg at the wheel of the Haas VF-23. Australia, April 2023.

Haas launched a post-race protest in Melbourne which if it had been successful, could have seen Nico Hulkenberg secure a P4 finish.

It had already been a drama-filled Australian Grand Prix even before the second standing restart of the race, but it was that one which sent the race from dramatic to chaotic with multiple collisions through the opening corners.

The race would be promptly red-flagged again, but one of the major beneficiaries was Haas’ sole remaining driver, with Hulkenberg now running a mighty P4, until he was not.

It was determined by Race Control that the race would restart for one final lap in the order of the last restart, minus the cluster of eliminated cars, meaning it was now a P7 finish for Hulkenberg, even though he stopped at the second corner on the last lap while the Safety Car was leading the drivers to the chequered flag.

The decision to revert to that previous starting order was shades of Silverstone 2022, where the fact that not all drivers had crossed the second Safety Car line when the red flags came out, meant the order was reverted for the next restart.

But, Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz would reveal that Haas were going to take a punt with a post-Australian GP protest to try and secure that P4. The team would later confirm this to be the case.

“They’re going to give it a go to protest,” said Kravitz as Karun Chandhok and his fellow Sky F1 colleagues discussed the restart.

“On the result, because which Safety Car line did you just say that they think that they crossed, which gives the Silverstone-like result? That’s what they’re questioning the FIA with.”

Chandhok noted that as per the rules, the drivers would have needed to have got to the end of the first sector for that order to stand for the restart, but said they did not.

“It should be Sector 1, but they haven’t got to Sector 1,” said the former F1 driver.

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“Okay, so obviously they have to gain a P4 potentially for Haas if they managed to read the rules differently, and so they’re going to give a protest ago,” Kravitz replied.

“I think it’s worth their time. I just checked with Guenther Steiner [team principal], he said ‘absolutely we’re going to protest’.

“It’s all a bit still confusing in terms of which line it was, Safety Car one, Safety Car two, which order, red flag, as to when the red flag comes out and which line they’ve passed. And so they’re going to give it a go.”

The protest was heard by the FIA and dismissed, meaning Haas will have to settle for P7 on a Sunday when Max Verstappen claimed his first victory at Albert Park.