Start, Suzuka, 2019

Bottas admits “lucky” Suzuka start was aided by Vettel’s early move

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says his lightning-fast getaway in the Japanese Grand Prix was inadvertently aided by Sebastian Vettel, who lined up in front of him and almost jumped the start.

Vettel was cleared of jumping the start after his Ferrari moved, then stopped, before the lights went out. Video footage showed Bottas, who started behind him, moved shortly after Vettel did, but just in time to catch the start of the race.

Bottas admitted his reaction time was “rather quick – I think it was four-hundredths [of a second].” He said it was “maybe my best so far”.

“That reaction time is when I do my first movement with whatever [after] the lights go off,” he explained. “Not the car moving yet, because that also takes a bit of time.”

He said Vettel’s near-false start in front of him aided his getaway.

“That’s normally not a reaction time I can achieve. Maybe it was aided a little bit by Sebastian moving than before. So for sure, a little bit lucky as well with the timing and everything. And a bit risky, for sure, because normally it’s at least a tenth slower direction than that.

“So it was definitely on the quick side and risky side, but obviously looking at it afterwards very good, very nice, happy about that.”

Bottas’s quick start propelled him into the lead and put him on course to score his first victory since April. “It’s definitely a good feeling coming into a race after having a good one,” he said.

“I tried to carry the positive feeling and kind of the momentum. Japan is a unique grand prix to win, so we’re really pleased about that.

“I saw some nice pictures actually 20 years ago exactly Mika [Hakkinen’s] win there and mine. It’s crazy because I remember watching that race.

“So it’s pretty cool and the race start obviously allowed that to happen. It was the key thing, getting to the lead on that kind of track.”

Two years ago at the Austrian Grand Prix Bottas was investigated for potentially jumping the start, but cleared. His reaction time on that occasion was measured at 0.201 seconds.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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8 comments on “Bottas admits “lucky” Suzuka start was aided by Vettel’s early move”

  1. Could indeed be that Bottas started when he saw Vettel move and he was lucky that the lights just went out as all that happened.

    Vettel was cleared of jumping the start after his Ferrari moved, then stopped, before the lights went out.

    Vettel actually stopped clearly AFTER the lights went out. However, the stewards argued that he was still in sensor range so apparently he didn’t “move” at all according to the regulations.

    1. Whilst it was in my view clearly a jump start, I think the fact he stopped after the lights went out and it cost him several positions means he was penalised anyway. If he’d gone early and kept the lead, he’d have been punished but he screwed his own race up and handed a win to Mercedes.

      1. @petebaldwin ”several positions” – He only lost one, though.

        1. I wonder what would of happened if Bottas had jumped the start by going when seb moved.

          Would Seb of still not got a penalty but Bottas would? (because Seb stopped after making his error).

          They have made a previously black and white easy decision rather grey.

      2. @petebaldwin Well video footage clearly shows Vettel didn’t move that far. So it make sense that indeed he was still in sensor range. As the stewards claimed was their base for not giving the penalty. He moved but not far enough for the “alarm” to go off.

        I don’t see how losing places would be an argument. Raikkonen lost a ton of places and still got the penalty for a false start. He moved say 10cm further and stopped just outside of sensor range.

        Still think it’s daft that that means he gets away with a false start though. As his premature movement hinders other drivers too. Although Bottas got away with it. Leclerc not so much.

        1. I agree it’s daft but that seems to fit With F1 decision making… It’s like how if you crash into another car but cause no damage, you’re less likely to get a penalty than if they get a puncture or go off. Or if you cut a corner but don’t gain a position (only time) it’s ok. Or if you leave the pits unsafely but are racing for a podium position, it seems to be ok. Or if you go all 4 wheels off the track, it’s OK providing you don’t gain an advantage even though you do because you didn’t slow down and stay in track….

    2. Yes, like in austria a couple years ago it seems clear that the race directors tolerances are clearing drivers of a fair few jump starts, and the reason why nobody jump starts as they use to 20 years ago. Teams might explore this if they are given the tolerance.
      Watching both austria and japan frame by frame Bottas clearly jump started

      1. Sky says he was 0.040 positive therefore the tolerance is far greater than .040 and wheres vettel penalty, sure hed get one if he had kept the lead. Wwef1

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