The race at Albert Park was red-flagged after Kevin Magnussen crashed at Turn 2 after brushing the barriers. Race control decided to halt the race due to there being too much debris on the circuit.
A third red flag was put out as a result, but it was unclear how the order would be determined to finish the race.
At the time the order on-track was: Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz, Hulkenberg, Yuki Tsunoda, Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.
However, as race leader Verstappen hadn’t completed the first sector, the FIA had no official reference of what the order was, thus they were forced to revert back to the original grid from the standing start.
As a result, Hulkenberg dropped down from a provisional fourth – which would have been third thanks to Sainz’s incoming five-second penalty – to eighth.
Haas’ official protest fell on deaf ears, though.
An FIA statement read: “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.”
The FIA justified their decision: “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.”