Sebastian Vettel remained adamant in the aftermath of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix that Formula 1 rival Valtteri Bottas jumped the start, despite the Finn being cleared by the FIA’s data.
Bottas made a stunning getaway from pole, sparking race control to investigate a possible jump start as Vettel also complained over the radio.
The stewards found that Bottas had reacted 0.201 seconds after the lights had gone out, clearing him of any wrong-doing.
Bottas went on to beat Vettel to victory at the Red Bull Ring by 0.6 seconds, leaving the German disgruntled about the start-line antics.
“From my point of view he jumped the start. I was sure that he did,” Vettel said in the post-race press conference.
“It looked like it from inside of the car, but it’s not for me to judge at the end of the day. Probably it was a bit late because it’s quite tricky then to keep standing still.”
When informed Bottas’ reaction time was 0.201 seconds, Vettel said: “I don’t believe that.”
Bottas defended himself by explaining he did gamble on when to pull away, saying this is a normal tactic.
“There’s always a variation of time for when the lights go off, but for quite a long time that variation hadn’t been massive,” Bottas said.
“You know more or less the zone when it is going to be off, you are so alert at that point, your gambling between your reaction and guessing.
“Sometimes you get a mega start, sometimes you react a bit late and today it was one of my best reactions to the light. As long as the reaction time is positive, you’re fine.”
Vettel replied: “First of all, to clarify, I don’t want to take anything away from Valtteri. I think he drove an excellent race. Also at the end with a difficult car, he didn’t do a mistake, so he performed well.
“When I said I don’t believe this, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that reaction times are around 0.2 for everyone. I don’t think that everyone was that much slower today. That’s why I don’t believe Valtteri was that much quicker.
“I had a strong belief at the time he jumped the start. I’m guessing that there’s reason to believe he didn’t, but I can’t imagine his reaction time was 0.2.
“From my point of view his reaction was inhuman.”