Start, Red Bull Ring, 2017

F1 tightens up rules on jump starts for 2018

2018 F1 season

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Formula One will impose tougher rules intended to prevent drivers from jumping the start of races from the 2018 F1 season.

Revised rules for next year will specifically forbid drivers from positioning their cars in order to recognise whether the car has moved too soon.

The rewriting of the rules follows the controversy in this year’s Austrian Grand Prix where Valtteri Bottas was accused of anticipating the moment the lights would go out and starting early. Sebastian Vettel, who started alongside the Mercedes driver, said he “didn’t believe” Bottas had reacted to the lights going out in 0.201 seconds.

The penalties available to the stewards if a driver is judged to have jumped the start remain the same. Articles 38.3 (c) and (d) state drivers may be given a drive-through penalty or a ten-second stop-and-go time penalty for jumping the start.

Only one driver has been penalised for jumping the start since the beginning of 2013. This was Marcus Ericsson in the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix.

New jump start rule for 2018

2017 regulations

Either of the penalties under Articles 38.3c) or d) will be imposed for a false start judged using an FIA supplied transponder which must be fitted to the car as specified.

2018 regulations

Either of the penalties under Articles 38.3c) or d) will be imposed on any driver who is judged to have:
a) Moved before the start signal is given, such judgement being made by an FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted to each car, or;
b) Positioned his car on the starting grid in such a way that the transponder is unable to detect the moment at which the car first moved from its grid position after the start signal is given.

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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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54 comments on “F1 tightens up rules on jump starts for 2018”

  1. Does a jump start include an AA truck and let say a STR Honda?

    1. @baasbas +1

  2. Sebass needs to check out NHRA. I’m sure John Force would love to host him.

  3. Why do we worry about anticipating a start?
    – F1 is not a 100m dash/sprint with a related World Record.
    Therefore a jump start should be as simple as if you move before the signal WRONG, if on/after the signal GOOD.
    Let them anticipate as much as they want, they’ll get it wrong more often than not.

    And re. transponder does not connect due to wrong car positioning, then we already have a rule which determines taht they need to be within their allocated starting ‘box’. If within the transponder should work.

    1. More stupid unneeded rule changes to justify their (inflated) pay packets. This nonsense happens every year. Expect more.

    2. I agree with this. If you anticipate the start, then good on you. However, I think it’s to stop people anticipating at every race, as 90% of the time they’d get it wrong and there would be so many penalties…

      1. @hugh11, yes jump starts are a huge problem, we see so many of them. Ehhh !?

      2. the lights going out are unique to each race. its never the same. so would be some damn good guess work! lol. F1 drivers have PHENOMENAL reactions. As im sure your all aware. lol. 2017 example -palmer, springs to mind on two races, avoiding cars in collisions…massa also in one race……BUT…bottas..was quite simply a PERFECT start……..kinda his job. haha. and yes, agree.surely this transponders would react when the car moves? slightly angled another direction or not….its in the car. lol

    3. Well, in track and field, if your reaction time is lower than a certain value, you get disqualified, even though you officially move after the gun.

    4. [like]

    5. The only change to the regulations is that drivers no longer get the benefit of the doubt if the transponder doesn’t relay their position (typically due to bad parking on the grid). Anticipation of the lights is still allowed, provided no literal jump start occurs. The only way in which Bottas’ Austrian Grand Prix start is relevant is that Vettel’s post-race disbelief could immediately be answered by the stewards with documentary proof of the start’s legitimacy, since lack of documentation would have caused a penalty long before the race ended.

  4. Great to focus on a rule with one enfreignent over the last four year. Typical F1 priority. And it does not even solve the grey area around what is acceptable reaction time or not.

    1. The reaction time rule I find baffling. The rule is, “don’t jump the start.” If some driver has some kind of highly refined reaction time, bully for him. And, BTW, I don’t think that a .2s reaction time qualifies Bottas for the X-Men academy. It’s in the realm of human physiology.

      1. @dmw

        And, BTW, I don’t think that a .2s reaction time qualifies Bottas for the X-Men academy. It’s in the realm of human physiology.

        Not the point. On the contrary, a reaction time of 0.2 seconds is assumed to be normal.
        Bottas’ “reaction time” of 0.201 was, however, not really his reaction time. That was just the value determined by a sensor with a high tolerance for slow movement. In fact, Vettel’s impression was right: Bottas did start moving a fraction of a second before the lights went out – he really anticipated the start instead of reacting to the signal. He was just insanely lucky, because triggering his movement sensor 2/1000ths of a second earlier would’ve meant a penalty for him.
        Ultimately, he wasn’t penalised because his start followed the letter (but not the spirit) of the rule. And that is why the rule has been rewritten.

        1. In many sports, (eg. yacht racing) the start time is precise, x seconds after signal y, and starting exactly on time is (a) a valued skill, and (b) fair to all competitors. Using a fixed time from lights on to lights out would suffice to remove any unfair (unpenalised) advantage, and surely it should be within F1s capabilities to do so.

          1. @hohum
            It would be within F1’s capabilities to do so, but absolutely not in its best interest. If the starting time is precisely known beforehand, any individual differences are virtually eliminated. If everyone can anticipate the start, all ‘reaction times’ would be within a few hundredths, if not thousandths, of a second, all but eliminating the role of the driver and putting the emphasis back on the car’s ability to accelerate off the line.

            The comparison with yacht racing is, in my opinion, not conducive, as a yacht cannot accelerate from a standstill (at least not without looking ridiculous), so a rolling start is required.

        2. I still dont understand how starting to move before red lights are out qualifies as a reaction time of 0.201. -0.201 id understand

          1. Like I said, that’s ‘reaction time’ marks the moment a sensor under the car was triggered. That sensor has, like I said, a high tolerance for slow movement, and it happened to be triggered just late enough to go unpenalised.

    2. So many people asking, in effect, ‘why all the fuss over something that
      rarely happens ?’

      Well lets assume that a specific ( and famous) team’s lead driver complains
      that he was seriously disadvantaged by a rival driver starting to move his car
      forward a fraction of a second before the supposed ‘disadvantaged’ driver.
      And then lets examine who that driver might be and whch illustrious team he
      drives for.

      We should then equally consider other race-result-affecting decisions any
      unfortunate FIA senior officer may be called upon to make in other races.
      Decisions that affected the outcome not only those races but more than likely
      a championship result. Because the hard truth is that there have been
      some extremely questionable decisions made which subtely or decisively
      favoured his team and one is led to the inevitable conclusion that the complaining
      driver should, quite frankly, consider himself damned lucky he was not much
      more severely punished for several of his own transgressions in the recent past.

      But these are just small things that do occur to one from time to time…..

    3. Um… …we don’t know how many infringements there were, because the changed part covers starts where there is no proof in the data whether a start was correct or jumped, and the relevant data has not been issued. The “one breach in four years” is for the one part that has been monitored for that time (i.e. drivers who have definitely jumped the start according to the data).

  5. Why must the FIA suck the life out of everything with these rules – it was a one off occurrence and as a fan it was fun to watch a driver pushing the limits of what is acceptable. And as @jeanrien said, it doesn’t even clarify the issue with reaction time anyway.

    Also, it doesn’t even say what counts as ‘positioning the car in such a way that blah blah…’. I don’t even understand how the position of the car will make a difference. The transponders can measure movement, can’t they?

    In my humble opinion, if a driver anticipates the start and gets it right, as long as it is after the lights go out then it is after the lights have gone out.

    1. @strontium

      Also, it doesn’t even say what counts as ‘positioning the car in such a way that blah blah…’. I don’t even understand how the position of the car will make a difference. The transponders can measure movement, can’t they?

      You might be right, but my initial thought when I read this was to recall when Vettel lined up on the grid way to the side of his box in China . It might just be a way to write that into the rules.

      1. OK, not sure how that link fail happened :D

      2. Good point. I thought the hubbub about that was that Vettel was seen as getting a head-start on a Schumacher-chop for the start, not trying to game the transponder.

        1. At the time, it was. The transponder issue sort of crept up later.

      3. I read that Vettel’s starting position in China did indeed cause this rule change. The system did not register his starting position there because his transponder was too far away.

        At the time there was a discussion about how far a driver could legally deviate from the center of the box before it gets illegal. This rule answers that question: the transponder must be able to detect the start.

        Poor Palmer is going to have a lot of false starts with that dodgy transponder of his.

    2. It doesn’t need to say what constitutes ‘positioning the car in such a way that blah blah…’, because the translation for that is “the start can only be valid if the car’s data as sent to Race Control (as is already supposed to happen) shows it was valid – technical issues or bad parking no longer a valid excuse”. If a team can get the FIA-standard-issue transponder to detect from a longer distance than their rivals, then bully for them (in the same way that if a driver successfully anticipates the start, bully for them).

  6. Was this needed?

  7. FIA solving another non-issue. Great job.

  8. Seems like sensible clarification. I like that drivers can still anticipate the starts. Doing that is incredibly risky so it is unlikely drivers will do it. But I like that the drivers can do it. Trying to set up some kind of mental limit would be just silly. F1 is not some 100meter sprint where the whole grid needs to restart if someone gets it slightly wrong.

  9. Banning anticipated start is ridiculous. People have different reaction times. And more importantly, as some have pointed it out, it brings one more variable for those willing to risk, and I think it’s a good one, because the odds are so slim, but if you hit it in a 1/1000 scenario, it is a big reward.
    It’s like FIA is trying to drain the life out of every area of this sport where there is still some life to be found. Starts are one of those things where it’s really up to the driver, so let it be.
    How come Alonso always has great starts. People used to say it was down to his Renault having superior systems, but then he was great starter in literally every car he has ever driven. His starts from both Ferrari years and these McLaren years are all extremely impressive.
    Let us have one more area where you can really see a difference between drivers themselves.

    1. Anticipated starts are not banned. Starts that cannot be proved not to be jump starts are.

  10. Isn’t part of this to stop Vettel doing what he did in China, where he was not really ‘in’ his grid box?
    This suggests that the transponder didn’t work d

    1. …due to where he started from

      1. @eurobrun Yes, exactly!

  11. “When a sport changes a rule to make it harder for you, you know you are really good” – Barrack Obama

    Jokes aside, I think even with the new regulations a lucky 0.1second start is still possible or am I missing something here?

    1. You think correctly. The point is that if someone accuses you of a jump start when it was an anticipated start, you now have to be able to prove it (Bottas could in his case, but that’s now gone from “useful” to “regulatory requirement).

  12. Am I dreaming, one mistake involving a rule change, knee jerk reaction at its best, hats off to the FIA.

  13. i read this as taking away the reaction ruling. “a false start judged using …” becomes “Moved before the start signal is given”. so they are no longer judging false starts (with reaction times a consideration), just movement before the start signal. think its an increase in clarity and common sense.

    must everyone pile on the FIA without reading?

    1. A false start already was defined as moving before the signal was given, though clarifying that on the rule itself is helpful.

  14. Positioned his car on the starting grid in such a way that the transponder is unable to detect the moment at which the car first moved from its grid position after the start signal is given.

    They would not add this, if this is not what Bottas did. How is another question, but it was clear immediately from the onboard camera that the transponder was not detecting the correct reaction time.

    Are people not reading the rule change? They aren’t banning anticipating the start, they are banning whatever tricks are being used to prevent the transponder from working.

    1. Precisely.They might add coils or whatever to jam the transponder so just limiting the position is not good enough.
      Now teams have to make sure the transponder works unhindered or they’d get penalized.

    2. They added it because it is what Vettel did in China (he was too far to the side of the grid slot for the transponder to pick up his location, which back then was legal), and what he queried of Bottas’ start in Austria (perhaps suspecting Bottas had done deliberately for jump-start advantage what Vettel most likely did inadvertently out of keenness to move sideways upon starting). Bottas was able to prove it, hence why we know the start took him only 0.201 seconds, but back then the onus was on the FIA to prove rule was broken. Now the onus is on the team to prove they didn’t.

  15. I don’t think it should be that hard to write the rules like drag racing from a flash light is done. If you move before the lights are out you jumped. Not hard to notice either from the on board cam that the tires move before the lights. Even with the frame rate on the broadcast if you ran it in slow motion you could see Bottas’ tires move then the lights go out, simple penalty.

    1. That was the rule before. This change is because apparently that wasn’t clear enough.

  16. Didn’t Alonso jump the start in Silverstone 2014?

    1. Yes, he didn’t.

      Sarcasm aside, he served a penalty for overshooting his starting box.

      1. I doubt Fernando appreciated the difference between a parking and a moving violation in that instance ;)

  17. Now that the important issue of jump starts has been addressed, can the FIA turn their attention to the less serious issue of a driver using their vehicle as a battering ram due to road rage. I know its low on the agenda but it would be nice if that could also be tightened.

    1. Hmmm… …maybe add a clause that collisions are declared non-racing-incidents if either car’s transponder is unable to determine whether the driver could have chosen a better course? It’s quite a jump for AI, but it could be a way ahead in the next few years, to supplement human judgment (which try as the FIA might, will never be perfect)?

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