Sebastian Vettel accuses Valtteri Bottas of jump starting Austrian Grand Prix

By @saihoops on
Formula One world championship, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas
Formula One - F1 - Austrian Grand Prix 2017 - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - July 9, 2017 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas celebrates his win on the podium with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel Reuters / Dominic Ebenbichler

Formula One world championship leader Sebastian Vettel is still not convinced that Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas did not jump start his way to victory during Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. Despite being told by the FIA that Bottas' reaction time was a legal 0.201s, the Ferrari driver does not believe the Finn made a clean start. 

Vettel twice questioned Bottas' start over team radio after the controversial first lap at the Red Bull Ring. Even though television replays somewhat vindicated Vettel's doubts, race stewards investigated Bottas' getaway and ruled out any wrongdoing. Bottas and Vettel started the race in the front row after Saturday's qualifying session in which Hamilton dropped to eighth spot due to a gearbox penalty. 

"I don't believe it (Bottas didn't jump start) because I don't believe it. I think the reaction times are around 0.2s for everyone and I don't think that everyone is that much slower (than Bottas), so that is why -- I don't think Valtteri is that much quicker than us. I was a strong believer at the time that he jumped the start but I am guessing there is reason to believe he didn't, but I can't imagine his reaction time was 0.2s -- that would be normal," an irate Vettel said in the post-race press conference, via ESPN.

FIA confirms that Valtteri Bottas did not violate rule

According to FIA rules, to trigger a jump start, "a driver needs to move before the lights go out" even though a little bit of movement is tolerated to allow him to make clutch adjustments prior to the start. After the race, several videos on social media hinted that Bottas did move slightly before the lights went out. However, the FIA released transponder data which confirmed that the Finn did not exceed the tolerance limit. 

Vettel was still not convinced. "The main thing was it (the reaction time) is positive. The lights were held for a long time, more than normal, there is always a window but it did seem longer. When you're there and your revs are high you're kind of waiting and waiting and for sure he went when the lights went out so I guess he got lucky," said the four-time world champion.

The German recalled an incident in Formula 3 in which he made an accidental jump start. "I did that in Formula 3 once and it was on the edge. I'm sure you react at that point, in theory it's not a natural reaction I don't believe but if it's plus he's safe. I don't believe he reacted to the lights. I commented saying Valtteri jumped so in the end he didn't jump but for sure he got a bit lucky. You can't take the win away from him he did well."

It's worth noting that Vettel is already facing a possible one-race suspension after accusing Hamilton of break testing during a safety car lap of last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Vettel, arguably the best driver of his generation, has the chance to clinch his fifth World Championship and his first with Ferrari this season. After the stop in Austria, the 2017 Formula One season will now move to the Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix (July 14th-16th). Stay tuned for the latest F1 news and updates.