Start, Red Bull Ring, 2017

Bottas admits he “gambled” on start in Austria

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas revealed his rapid getaway at the start of the Austrian Grand Prix was achieved by anticipating when the lights would change.

Bottas was cleared of jumping the start after the FIA ruled he had taken 0.201 seconds to react to the lights changing. However Bottas admitted his start had been ‘on the risky side’.

“Having a start like that definitely you need to gamble a little bit,” said Bottas in the pre-event press conference at the British Grand Prix.

“If you’re moving exactly at the same point when the lights go off you definitely need to be a bit on the risky side rather than the safe side. Everyone is obviously free to try and have an idea, guess when the lights go.”

Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who queried the legality of the Mercedes driver’s start during the race, said on Sunday they suspected Bottas had anticipated the lights changing.

“For sure, he went, but the lights went out but I guess he got lucky,” said Riccairdo. “I did it in Formula Three before, once, it was on the edge, I’m sure you react, but at that same point the lights went out.”

“In theory it’s not a natural reaction I don’t believe, but as Valtteri said if it’s plus then he’s safe. But I don’t believe he reacted to the lights.”

Other drivers said it would be too risky to try to anticipate when the lights would change.

“I normally don’t gamble,” said Romain Grosjean. “May think about it but I just normally react to the lights.”

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    38 comments on “Bottas admits he “gambled” on start in Austria”

    1. Bottas was cleared of jumping the start after the FIA ruled he had taken 0.201 seconds to react to the lights changing

      Don’t get me started… Anyway, sometimes I guess you gotta spin that wheel.

      1. Well as long as you don’t get started before the lights go out, you should be fine ;)

        1. @neiana You sir, deserve CoTD!

    2. I still find this rule particularly weird.

      Surely as a driver, you anticipate the lights going out? Shouldn’t the rule be as long as you don’t move before the lights, it’s fine? I find it extremely confusing that there’s a small print to what should be one of the most straightforward rules in the sport!

      1. I’m guessing a margin has been put in the rules because Renault (in the Briatore days) had a device that detected the sensor in the ground for jump starts and reacted to that for a perfect start.
        Keith might have an article or more details (and more correct) about this :)

        But to eliminate such devices a margin has to be build in for a ‘human’ reaction.
        And if Bottas gambled and didn’t react on the light, fair play. Everybody can try it :)

      2. @ecwdanselby In the olympics 100m race they penalize you for reacting too quickly, even if your reaction time is after the gun. That’s because you are gaining an advantage by gambling on the start.
        The allowable time is 0.1s after the gun, so Bottas would be fine at that. You may also need to factor in the speed of sound rather than light which would mean that Bottas should be allowed a quicker reaction time.
        All considered, Bottas was fine but I think a tolerance after lights out would encourage drivers to wait for the lights to go out.

        1. The speed of sound from a gun 2meters away is a non issue compared to the human reaction of light and sound.

        2. You could clearly see from the onboard camera shots that he released the clutch while the lights were on. There was just barely enough lag in the car from that action, and enough margin in the rules, that he got away with it. I don’t understand why there was such uncertainty from commentators etc. about whether he anticipated or not. Of course he anticipated.

        3. There are speakers behind each runner so the one closest to the gun gets no advantage. The speed of sound is not a factor.

        4. @twentyseven That’s the same thing. But actually I agree with @ecwdanselby here. It’s a weird rule, because a reaction time is a reaction time. And although it has been scientifically proven that pro athletes (which F1 drivers are) can respond much, much faster than you and me, there’s always a difference between one person and the next.

          For example, Ricciardo was measured at .389 sec I believe. Let’s say if Bottas wouldn’t anticipate, he would max out at .450 sec or so, he would always have a minor disadvantage over Ricciardo. So to make up for that, he should be allowed to anticipate. Whether you draw the line at the exact moment the lights go out or .1 or .2 sec, that’s up to the FIA, but it’s weird the FIA won’t comment on what the minimum allowed reaction time is.

        5. @twentyseven I don’t get why anticipating the start isn’t allowed. They basically took a gamble for a tenth of a second and risk much more than that if it fails, so it seems fine in my book.

          Furthermore, the time when the lights go out is randomized so Bottas is really lucky with his timing and I doubt he can repeat that start again even if he want to.

          1. This is my view also. Anticipating the start should be allowed; so long the anticipation is *human* anticipation, and not assisted by anything.

            That makes it an extremely risky gamble for the driver. If they get it right, they may gain a couple of positions (or maintain the lead). But the penalty for a jump start is justifiably severe; so much so that for most drivers it’s not worth the risk.

        6. @twentyseven Auditory Reaction Time of a human brain is faster than Visual Reaction Time, so actually it’s the other way around. Speed of sound and speed of light has negligible impact.

          What’s interesting, is that FIA cleared Bottas, saying that he reacted to the lights and here we have Bottas basically saying that he didn’t react to the lights.

          1. if, by anticipating the lights, he had moved within the defined human reaction time (200 milliseconds i guess) then it’s fine. he gained no advantage over someone who had reacted in the same time. basically he got lucky but it’s perfectly within the rules.

            thinking about it, it’s a really dumb idea to try and anticipate the lights because the potential reward is not that great (unless you have rubbish reaction times) and the potential punishment is huge.

            1. @frood19

              He gained no advantage over someone who had reacted in the same time.

              Sure, but it’s strange that nobody did. We all got information that his “reaction time” was 0.201s, but as other people noted it’s probably not a reaction time in the sense we all understand it. The whole grid was a tenth or two behind him, so either all the other drivers were very slow that day, or he jumped it and FIA should come up with a better way of determining a jump start in the future.

              Anticipating the lights is normal. That’s what you do as a racing driver, you anticipate and react. Trying to gamble and guess when the lights go is dumb. Nobody does that and Bottas isn’t dumb. I don’t think that’s what he did. In my humble opinion Valtteri was ready to go and as every other driver he was waiting for the lights to go off, he didn’t intend to gamble, but start of a race is a very intense moment, he released the clutch too early and he got lucky.

            2. @maroonjack that’s interesting. i wasn’t aware there was such a big discrepancy between his start and everyone else’s. perhaps they need to add something to the ‘human’ reaction time because there is obviously going to be a little pause between the driver letting the clutch out and the sensor detecting the car actually moving. so that 0.001 of a second is almost certainly a jump start in the sense that bottas reacted before the lights went out.

    3. Also is the rule you cant movebefore the jights go out, or you cant leave your pit box?
      And know is everyone gonna start anticipating the lights? This could get dangerous.

      1. Could get dangerous? It has always been like this.

      2. If you jump the lights you get a penalty so it is business as usual. Your penalty would be served a few laps later, so no danger there.

      3. Dangerous? Please. Having a slow start such as Verstappen did is much more dangerous, just look at how many huge crashes there were in the past.

      4. Do you have a link to that rule?

    4. As pole sitter it’s not a gamble worth taking in my opinion, had he jumped it and got a penalty, Vettel would have breezed to a race win, in a season where Merc need Bottas to take every point possible when his teammate has had issues.

    5. Bottas was cleared of jumping the start after the FIA ruled he had taken 0.201 seconds to react to the lights changing. However Bottas admitted his start had been ‘on the risky side’”

      Did the FIA mention the 0.201s reaction?? I didn’t see that anywhere.

      It was clear he moved before the lights went out, he just happened to avoid getting a penalty as it was within tolerance (a tolerance that the FIA won’t indulge). I wonder where the 0.201s came from then if he was already moving when the lights went?? He obviously didn’t react to any lights, he gambled as to when they would extinguish and it paid off beautifully!

      1. This again? It was show on screen during the race:

        Bottom left corner, ten seconds into the clip. Start Reaction: 0.201s. It was aired after the stewards analysed the telemetry and cleared him, although according to Bottas it looks like the stewards made a mistake.

        1. Read my post again lad. I didn’t see anywhere that the FIA mentioned a 0.201s reaction time, I’m not refering to the graphic on screen, I saw that. That is an FOM graphic, not FIA.

          Do you believe an FOM graphic before you believe your own eyes?? How could there be a 0.201s reaction time to the lights going out when he was already moving before that?!

        2. What the FIA published as 0.201 seconds is clearly not a reaction time in the sense one would normally understand it. (They also showed Vettel’s reaction time with 0.4 seconds or so, which would be very poor.) It is the time from lights out until the sensors in the ground and the car detect sufficient movement – there is a certain margin if movement that is allowed as cars may not be sitting completely still while on the grid.

          Bottas’ actual reaction time surely was negative as the wheel was just moving before the lights turned off. This means he would have to start the movement of dropping the clutch paddle even earlier than that.

          I think he was very lucky as if the lights had turned off 0.002 seconds later (or more) he would have been given a drive through (to be taken within 3 laps after the safety car phase when the field was packed together, meaning he would slip to last) and would have finished the race behind Räikkönen at best probably.


    6. For those who haven’t seen it, *this* is how you do a jump start:

    7. How do you anticipate 0.2 seconds? Then again maybe the light timing has become too predictable and he just knew when to go from past expereince.

      1. anticipate 0.2 seconds?

        you need to gamble a little bit,” said Bottas


        (though the more time elapses the higher to odds that the exact following moment will see the lights turn off)

      2. GtisBetter (@)
        13th July 2017, 23:20

        There are people in motogp who go and watch the start of the lower classes to see how the lights are. There were plenty of support races in austria to see if there was a pattern. No idea if anybody in F1 actually does that though.

    8. Greg Czebatol
      14th July 2017, 1:28

      In NHRA drag racing timing the light is universal. Beating your opponent by the starting margin -even .001 – is a point of pride and is called a “holeshot” win. But if one driver jumps the light they lose. It’s a gamble but athletes are known to do that.

    9. just wondering has anyone seen the rule about jumping the start?

    10. Isn´t it something like there are maximum 7 (?) seconds from the first light to the start of the race?

      1. @mahuu I’m not sure myself, but the lights up in 1s interval but it get randomized when it goes off. So maybe you’re right and the start itself can be between 5.5s to 7s.

        1. At Nürburgring in 1999 the lights didn´t go out but multiple drivers still took off, that´s why I think there is a maximum time span

          1. @mahuu But that start get aborted anyway. Maybe since it was too long, only one driver jump started and the others just overreacting since they also eagerly waiting to start.

    11. I am almost glad that this happened because it demonstrates how bad the officiating and the regulations in F1 are.
      Its a great event ( I am still not sure that ” sport ” is the correct term ) with great cars and mostly great tracks but, the rule making and enforcing are horrible and thus detract from the events and their ” sporting ” character ,that is they are not fair to the participants or the viewers.
      It was clear that Bottas jumped but, it was ruled that it was OK . Really ? In an auto race or any race for that matter how can it be within the rules to permit anticipation of the start rather than reaction to the start signal ?
      In other events where the start is too quick anticipation is presumed and the offender punished but, here ,in F1 ,it is permitted . This is why F1 has money issues.
      When you examine F1’s components ,such as : great cars ,great tracks ,high tech ,dangerous circumstances etc. the events should have people waiting in line to throw their money at the events with growth and earning on the rise every week but , that is NOT what is happening .Look at the situation in Silverstone and the other venues that are soon to stop hosting events .
      Bottas’ start should never have been tolerated and the fact that the powers in F1 have given the start their official stamp of approval makes the whole matter worse and diminishes the stature of the circuit.
      In the world of races, all manner of races ,it has been accepted and rightfully so that starts should be by reaction and not guesses .
      Bottas guessed and F1 said that was OK. So now we are saying that luck is permitted to beat skill ,what kind of sport ( other than gambling would permit such a thing ?) F1 ,via its rules and the interpretation of them, has linked itself closer to casino gambling than to track and field. Maybe that is why F1’s premier event is in Monaco .” Ladies and Gentleman, try your luck, it’s what the drivers do. “Is that what we are to soon hear from the F1 promoters ?
      Every week my respect for F1 falls and obviously based on the money woes and downward attendance trends that F1 is experiencing- many others feel the same .
      Never in my life have I watched so much NASCAR as I have this year and frankly I am starting to see the appeal of it .

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