“I don’t believe it” – Sebastian Vettel pours doubt on dream start as Bottas maintains an F1 tradition
Vettel, Bottas F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jul 2017   |  3:45 pm GMT  |  365 comments

Valtteri Bottas rocketed away from pole position to win the Austrian Grand Prix, keeping alive a curious tradition at this circuit in recent times; the supposed ‘number two’ drivers in the teams frequently outperform their star team mates here.

It started with Rubens Barrichello in 2002, dominating the race before being controversially told by Ferrari to give the win to Michael Schumacher. David Coulthard won here the previous year, while when the track returned to the calendar in 2014, Nico Rosberg twice prevailed over Lewis Hamilton.

It was another great win for Bottas, his second of the season after a sharp getaway from pole position. The Finn was only a few milliseconds off jumping the start, according to the FIA stewards. But Sebastian Vettel was having none of it, repeating in the podium interviews, the press conference and the TV pen that he was adamant Bottas jumped the start.

Bottas described it as the ‘start of my life’ and he needed it on a day when Vettel was really on form. The German leaves Austria with a 20 point lead over Lewis Hamilton, who had another off-peak weekend.

Austrian GP 2017

Vettel was adamant that Bottas jumped the start and said that he found it distracting when judging his own start.

“I don’t believe it”, he said when told that Bottas’ reaction time was 0.2s, which is the normal elite human reaction time.

I was watching this from directly above Bottas’ car in the media centre, more of less looking directly down into the Mercedes cockpit. It was immediately noticeable that Bottas was moving before the others, but I couldn’t see the start lights so have no way of knowing whether he anticipated them. Hamilton also seemed to be moving quickly from the start.

Bottas surely now has to be considered a serious contender for the world championship, just 15 points adrift of his team mate Hamilton in the standings as we approach the half way stage. “I believe and the team believes” said Bottas of his chances of taking the title in his first season with Mercedes.

It was the fourth time this season that Hamilton has finished a race but not made the podium. In comparison, Vettel has only had two finishes where he didn’t stand on the podium. This consistency could really count later in the year.

Lewis Hamilton

The other thing that will help him is that Ferrari again was willing to leave Raikkonen out to try to affect their rivals’ race, knowing that it would cost him positions. Once Hamilton undercut him, the team initially thought about pitting the Finn, but then realised that the place was lost already and it was better to leave him out, hanging around 19 seconds behind Bottas in his pit window.

Once Bottas was forced to pit, he rejoined behind Raikkonen but the Ferrari driver on worn tyres made a mistake and it was an easy pass for Bottas, not what was intended by Ferrari.

But with Raikkonen now on half the points of Vettel he is working for the Ferrari’s drivers championship with the German, while Bottas is bringing himself into play at Mercedes.

What was very encouraging about the result in Austria was how close the top four cars were at the finish. Vettel was only 0.6secs behind Bottas while Ricciardo was only five seconds back in the Red Bull. With all the upgrades coming on the cars, it is impressive how close Mercedes and Ferrari remain. While Red Bull appears to be closing up too, which is encouraging for the second half of the season.

Ferrari has an engine upgrade for the next race in Silverstone, a track that should really suit their car.

Max Verstappen

Bittersweet day for Red Bull Racing on their home track
Daniel Ricciardo’s fifth consecutive podium was built on his actions at either end of the Grand Prix. He made a decisive pass on Kimi Raikkonen at the start of the race and then had to defend from Hamilton in the final lap. Red Bull looked as though they were going to be around 7/10ths of a second a lap slower than the front-runners, but in the end it was closer. Mercedes again seemed to struggle with the softest of the Pirelli tyre compounds.

However Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen had another retirement, his third in a row and the fifth of the season. This time he was the victim of a lunge by Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat on Fernando Alonso, which smashed the Spaniard into the Dutchman and led to the retirement of both.

Kvyat is likely to be in serious trouble with the Red Bull management for that, rather like the Sochi 2016 episode, where he was demoted from Red Bull for causing a collision at the start of the Russian GP, which led to Max Verstappen taking his seat for the next race in Spain.

Verstappen will be furious, even more furious than he was after retiring with engine problems in Baku. But Spirit of the Day award surely goes to the tens of thousands of Dutch Fans who packed into the grandstand at Turn 2, turning it orange. They must have been gutted when Max went out on the opening lap, but they stayed to the end, making noise and even letting off an orange smoke flare at the end.

Felipe Massa
Williams set up ambush but Massa unable to pull the trigger

The battle in midfield was pretty exciting, thanks to the chaos at the start with Kvyat triggering the accident with Verstappen and Alonso. This opened up the midfield as they drive around it and allowed the Williams pair to leap up from 17th and 18th on the grid up to 10th and 11th. Grosjean also made it up to the top four briefly, while the Force India pair were again assured in steering through the trouble.

Williams had split the strategies, possibly thinking that rain had been forecast and that this gave them the best way to hedge their bets. Stroll was on the supersofts, Massa the softs. Massa did very well on these tyres to Lap 48. This set him up for a final 23 lap blast on ultrasoft where he would attack Ocon, Perez and Grosjean. Who were all on older supersoft tyres.

But disappointingly he did not have the pace on the new tyres to attack.

It was a great day for Grosjean and Haas. One thinks of him as always complaining on the radio about the balance and the brakes and then he gets a result like this, his fifth points finish of the season. The Force India duo again bagged points in 7th and 8th , while Lance Stroll managed to score a point for the third race in a row.

What did you think of the race? Did you think Bottas jump the start? Leave your comment in the section below

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Here’s a nice sequence which shows Bottas’ start. What I don’t understand is where his reaction time is measured. If he was moving prior to the lights going out, then there is no reaction time after the lights go out. So, jump start.

Thanks to RZS10 at this site for the graphic (and others).



Of course he jumped the start. The conversation in the stewards room went something like this: “Bottas jumped the start, We have to give him a drive-through.” “What, and hand the race to Vettel? The HAM mob will shred us. They’re already howling that the FIA let him off for Baku. And remember, we’re in Silverstone next weekend!” “Yeah right. We’d better find a plausible explanation.” That’s why it took 25 minutes.


I thought the stewards routinely check the time between lights out and the car moving, and penalise anyone whose reaction time wasn’t humanly possible i.e. the anticipated lights out and got their reaction in early, so to speak. It appears that Bottas either really did get the perfect start, or he managed to anticipate the start in a way that put him just inside the accepted definition of a humanly possible reaction time. I suspect the latter, but either way the end result is the same – you can’t penalise him for a start that’s demonstrably within the letter of the law.


Sebastien Vettel (along with a lot of supporters) has become a whiny little bitch lately. Complaining about things that have no basis in reality no matter what the computers have shown (Kind of like the fools that still think that Trump is the salvation of the U.S.)
Why has he lost his cool demeanor from when he was at Red Bull? I think he’s under too much pressure from the overrated team that he drives for.
I, for one, do not understand why Ferrari, based on nothing more than its longevity in the sport gets free passes and breaks where other teams do not. Any prizes or awards should be based solely on current performance and nothing else.


What’s the big deal? Bottas took a risk, guessed it perfectly and nailed it. End of story


Jeez…Bottas got the hole shot. He anticipated the light and jumped the start just enough to gain a slight advantage yet not so much that he broke the rules. He obviously did a little red light drag racing when he was a kid.


Massa did have the pace on fresher tyres at the end, but everyone he got close to Ocon the front runners would arrive and Massa got blue flags putting him way behind again. Just unlucky. Vettel should just shut up with his crying. If everything isn’t handed to him on a silver platter he has a tantrum. Worst sportsman in the field.


I’m really glad for my “gallo” Ricciardo !

about Vet, he couldnt do all the drama he wanted because his recent sanction so thats hillarious, BUT did not jump techinally, so thats enough… he made a great start and VET was overcome, suck it up and MOVE ON…

damn bad luck for VER who right now should exercise patient and stop hearing his dad for a litle bit, same for SAI. You will have your chance, its just not this year… hold on there.


James: please find out. i think in dragster racing in the us – there is a minimum reaction time. If you react faster it is a jump start.
but i cant remember if it was 0.3 or even higher.
that is because there is often a penalty time for kind of BOP between the cars, and starting lights get green after each other.
so to prevent “anticipated” starts – there is a minimum reaction time (i somehow recall ..)

greetings from Austria
.. was sitting on the “steiermark tribune” .. (those with the green flags..) the whole weekend!


It’s sub 0.17 or something like that

Most fit humans can do 0.27 or similar


Maybe Bottas anticipated the light and got lucky. Maybe he made a mistake but got luck as the lights went out that tiny fraction of second before. Maybe it was an amazing reaction time (on par with top drag racers who do this many times per day). Whatever the case the telemetry has shown he was within tolerance. Even if he took a gamble and anticipated the light, it paid off. Also consider, if he left the line 1 or two tenths later he would have still been ahead of Vettel, who needs to stop whining after he was proven wrong. It wasn’t so long ago Vettel got luck himself not to face further punishment for his road rage incident.


Reaction time myths.

Drag Racers have huge “anticipation” advantage with the descending “Christmas Tree” coloured lights. If they had only five red lights which will go out anytime in the next few seconds, their reaction times will be much the same as anybody’s elses. If a wasp stings me on the arm precisely at the same time as another wasp stings say for example. Lewis Hamilton on the arm, there will be very little if any reaction time differences. How muscle and eye coordination subsequently react can be another whole kettle of ball games depending on age, too many pies etc … or summut.. 🙂


With or w/o this magic start Bottas would have been ahead anyways based on hist starts statistics. He is really good at it.


Lewis, like Max, is seriously beating his teammate this year. Max’s luck has been awful and Valteri should be more careful with what he smokes.


You do get some weird effects with cameras sometimes. Don’t know if it applies to what they’re using here, but some update the screen a line at a time rather than all of them at once. So what becomes a single frame on your television didn’t necessarily all happen at exactly the same time, there can be a tiny fraction of a second difference between when the top and bottom half of the screen is showing!


Sure, but that can be verified by the onboard image where you see when the colour changes compared to when the lights move…


Hi everyone! This is the first time posting on this blog.

If you want to have some fun testing your own reaction times, try this online test. https://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime/

I found it via: http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20272

It’s just for fun as there are too many variables to make it that accurate. I’m 49 years old and my average reaction time over five attempts was 201ms (my fastest ‘lucky’ time was just 32ms by anticipating the green…I would have been side by side with Bottas. 😉 Here’s a screenshot for posterity (if it works).


Me thinks the drivers have a more difficult mission, clutch, gas, gearbox, engine stall…


Tried your link a couple of times as well: it nice that it gives average of 5 tries.
Here is my score.


Link for testing reaction times on http://www.f1i.com..its fun

20 mins into the game and here are my top 5 reaction times:


Why don’t we debate something we’re even less qualified to judge, like the atomic characteristics of Shell oil, or the precise weight of a crankshaft bearing in the Ferrari engine?


On the Max Verstappen / Daniil Kvyat piece: Max would have never made it to the finish, his clutch failed on the warm up lap. Not really sure how he got going when the lights went out but he would have never made it to the finish (his own words). Again apologies from RBR but it baffles me that a world championship winning team can’t get 2 cars to finish consistently this year. RBR (even with Ricciardo’s finishes) have done less km’s in races than the McLaren’s!!


I think we need some proper analysis on this, the Sky footage showed him moving exactly as the lights went out. Where does the 0.2s from the FIA come from and how is it measured because it is clear to see from the footage that it is less than that. 0.2s is a fairly normal even slightly slow human reaction time, these guys are capable of quicker. I’m not that clued up on HDTV but a standard frame rate is 30fps, or 3/100ths of a second. Your eyes in real time are capable of processing around 20fps (that’s why 30fps video appears seamless to your eyes). Basically I think Bottas didn’t technically jump the start but anticipated it and got away with it due to the way it’s measured. Both Vettel and Ricciardo thought it was fishy and these are also guys with super human reaction times. It’s not something I have heard drivers complain about very often, by that I mean when someone makes a rocket ship start they don’t have a habit of all crying jump start, but they did this time.


The FIA spokesman specifically told they are hazy about the details as they would expect the teams to incorporate specific details in their start procedures ( read my post above about how I figured it works – of course data is from media so mostly sure, not accurate)
“An FIA spokesman said that any movement observed on Bottas’ car between the five lights being on and them going out was within this allowed limit – which is why the Finn was not deemed to have done anything wrong.” [Autosport website]
..and :
“The FIA does not disclose what tolerance is allowed before it takes action, for fear that if teams knew what was allowed they would start exploiting this to boost their getaways.” [same source]

Bernie's JerseyOffShore Racing Team

Read other posts: the facts are already known, Mika Salo who was race steward revealed them.
Bottas jumped the start but was within the tolerances.


On Bottas start – to my eyes it does look like jump start – maybe Bottas just opened up whole new world of possibilities with that start! I feel like lot more people are going to try it going forward!!
Thanks to recent Vettel’s antics all journalists are only quoting him for this incident. I thought it was Ricciardo who started this topic in the break room ahead of the podium ceremony.


Perhaps you can ask around and find out how the lights are timed? I’ve always figured there was some sort of random timer that went off anywhere from ~2 to ~6 seconds after the lights turn red. What is the exact range of delay, and how fine is the tolerance?

Also, who or what actually turns the lights out? Is there a person pushing a button, or just an electrical circuit that closes when x.xx seconds have elapsed?


Bottas was good and lucky at the same time. Good for him! Drove well deserved the win. By the end of the season Bottas will be on Lewis level. Though times ahead for the British boy.
As for all the upgrades Merc brought to Austria, Ferrari already had enough change in the pocket to put up with i and keep the Silverware honestt. Allison clearly carried all is expertise to the Mercedes team. While at Ferrari his upgrades hardly ever worked as expected.
Silverstone should suit Ferrari better and they also will bring major upgrades to the engine. Yet Mercedes may win that one too and Vettel still extend the lead.
Who knows?

Carlos Marques

I think Bottas should be banned from further safety car campaigns like Vettel. Imagine what message this sends to the general public- “Officer, listen, I didn’t run the red light. Seriously. The light was technically green-ish.”


I had not finished my previous. So part 2.

Well done Valtteri. Your fast changing things F1 into a far more interesting three horse race. Keep it up. No need to lurk under the shadow of your team mate. You could win this on merit. You’ve the talent and now have the car. What’s more they know it.


After reading the Formula1@ site and Autosport site articles and also watching a real time * not slow motiom replay frame by frame, I think I got it: The start was legit . Let me show what I think it is about.
We’ve been told under the grid case there is a sensor. What FIA oficials were dancing arround is that there are a “Motion detector” type AND a “switch”. It alows a minute movement at a very low speed *this alows cars to have a small “jump on the same spot” (the way a car with automatic transmition does when put in drive mode ) AND is trigered also at a certain range of movement ( as leaving the grid box when start is done. The movement must be under one tenth of a second long AND the time between the reds off and this trigger “on” must exceed two tenth of a second. Otherwise the start is considered jumped. Although Bottas did begin to go on red an exceptional luck made the starter ( CW , I think) to press the Lights off in the precise right moment 0.201second before the switch triggered by the car leaving the grid box.
In a sentence, Bottas has performed a launched start . But the launch speed and distance felt in the FIA accepted tollerance. Lucky him.
The rest is media show.


The bite point procedure happens with the foot on the brakes, so yes you can see the car move a bit, but in no way should the front tires rotate 20°. The ruling is what it is, so case closed for me…


I’m off to have an eye test in the morning. My old minces saw movement and my immediate reaction was Bottas jumped the gun. Apparently those better placed than I, drivers in slots 2-4 on the grid also queried jump start. So, not just Vettel. Little mention of those apart from Vettel in the aftermath. I wonder why… no I don’t. I know full well why.

Consider this. Had whatever parameters the Stewards have to play with, correction apply, decided a jump start penalty was justified, the outcry of yet another FIA fix in favour of Ferrari would be heard loudly all the way back to Modena and Maranello. Nothing to see here. N action best policy … keep the peace.


This one is simple. Yeah Bottas moved a little before the start but he didn’t cross the white line. Why the FIA says something about mystery tolerance is beyond me? His tires weren’t that close to the line. Neither are any other F1 cars which is not normal for straight drag racing. It looked good on the slow motion to me. I didn’t realize you can’t move at all?

As for Hamilton I think he did ok after starting 8th. Had he got pole and started 6th things wouldn’t have been much different. Either way he couldn’t get by Kimi on that first stint. He lost a lot of time there. Maybe if he had started on the purple tires who knows. He would have got around DR in another lap but Vettel would have done the same to Bottas.

It seems to me like Ferrari want the drivers title only. The real story here is Merc is going for the constructor prize which is the only thing that really matters $$$ or is it?


Well done Valtteri and Dan. vettel still has not grown up and until the facts are forced on him he will not admit that he is not as good as others on occasions and makes mistakes. What would have happened given Dan’s better start than Vettel and without Vettel’s double movement to block him?

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!