Austria: We clarify this mistery of a jump start

Mercedes pilot built his victory after start: Bottas was very fast to react even if Vettel and Ricciardo thought he did a jump-start.

This story about a jump-start of Bottas created a lots of discussions after the race, feeded from different footages uploaded on the web. First one to complain was Vettel. After two laps, by radio, he called his box saying:

“Bottas did a jump-start. Check it”

If you do not know it, jump-start is a technical word to say pilot started too early. When a pilot wants to make public his complain or he tells his opinion by radio, it is just a message to race director to check that subject. Vettel was calling the attention on a particular movement of the race that it could change the result. A couple of minutes later, Ricciardo decided to do the same thing. So race directors decided to move because if four eyes saw something similar, it means there was something to investigate. A careful check of sensors was done to see if Bottas was too fast and he started before red lights were turned off: he got an advantage of 15 metres against his opponents.

Start is a key moment of any race because a quick reaction can be fundamental to achieve a victory. Especially on those tracks where it is very difficult to overtake, Zeltweg is one of those cases or Montecarlo. It is true, starting is a very simple situation to judge because it is done on a straight line, covered perfectly by many cameras and where it is very easy to study any intention of a pilot. If a car moves in advance there is an option for an opinion. It is a jump-start or it is not, there are not too many options. Race director believed Bottas did a perfect start and case was closed. His reaction time was around 0,2 seconds. Less than a blink of an eye. Very quick but correct.

Before you start to think about a power game to help Mercedes or Ferrari, you should think about this: a couple of years ago, any start was checked by eyes only. Each commisar was on every single row checking if there was a jump-start. Everything was pretty much subjective. One day, they introduced a sensor and a traffic light. Initially, a green light was switched on when red light was switched off. After a while, some pilots understood this change was not istantaneous but there was a delay of 0,1 or 0,2 seconds from the red to a green light. Many of them learnt to start when red light was switched-off, avoiding to wait a green light. That was the moment when FIA thought to eliminate the green light because it was unuseful and to allow everybody to start when red light was off. They also decided to place some sensor on each position of the grid to check if one car was moving early or not.

Now, rules are clear and it is forbidden to cross the white line in front of the car with front tyres. It is long a couple of centimeters and it is where a car must stop before to start. So, it is pretty easy to check any jump-start. Race director did not notice any movement of Bottas, it was inside a normal limit and his front tyres never crossed the white line, this is the reason the Finnish pilot was not punished. What was the reason Vettel and Ricciardo believed he did a jump start? Because they saw Bottas moving in such a synchrony with the moment when red light was switched-off while they waited to see those lights completely off. They were simply surprised about the reaction time of the Finnish pilot and they thought he could only have achieved it with a jump-start. It is clear Bottas run a risk to do a mistake. He just guessed what it might be the right moment to start. Training? Luck? You decide, but he won his race over there.

See you,next race.

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