Sebastian Vettel questions Valtteri Bottas’ ‘unhuman’ act in Austria; Hamilton explains his angst
Sunday - 09/07/2017 20:20
SEBASTIAN Vettel has refused to believe Valtteri Bottas didn’t jump-start at the beginning of the Austrian GP, despite stewards clearing the Finn of wrongdoing.
Bottas survived a lengthy investigation after both Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo cast doubt about his flying getaway from pole, with Spielberg race stewards later using data to reveal the Mercedes driver’s reaction time at the start was a legal 0.201 seconds.
But Vettel remains unconvinced and was adamant the eventual race winner was lucky to escape without a penalty.
“From my point of view he jumped the start,” the German said. “I was sure that he did, it looked like it from inside the car, but it’s not for me to judge at the end of the day.”
When told that Bottas’ reaction time was 0.2s, a bemused Vettel responded: “Hmm ... I don’t believe that. Normally, the reactions are 0.2s for everyone, so I don’t believe everyone was slower today.
“So that is why I don’t believe Valtteri was that much quicker. A 0.2s reaction time would be normal and in my point of view his reaction was unhuman.”
“For sure, if I pass him at the start — the race looks different,” Vettel added to Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham.
Daniel Ricciardo also weighed in, saying he doesn’t believe Bottas reacted to the lights but at the same time is happy the Finn did nothing illegal, instead getting “lucky”.
“For sure, he went, but the lights went out but I guess he got lucky,” Ricciardo said. “I did it in Formula 3 before, once. Yeah, 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.
“I said it looked like Valtteri jumped. So yeah in the end he didn’t jump, because it was positive, but for sure he got a bit lucky. But as Seb rightly said, you can’t take the win away from him, so he did well. But that’s my opinion of how it went.”
Footage released by the FIA proved that Bottas’ car wasn’t moving at the time the fifth red light was extinguished, and he was relieved to avoid sanction before claiming his second ever F1 win.
“When the car was moving the lights were off, so that was the main thing!” Bottas said.
“It was probably one of the best starts, maybe even quite risky, but there’s not much more to gain in the start and I knew I had to make a good one.”
BOTTAS HAS ‘PSYCHIC FINGERS’
“It’s a case of Valtteri Bottas’ psychic fingers,” Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz said. “He didn’t jump the start because the start is measured by when the wheels turned and the wheels turned at the same time the lights went off.
“But that doesn’t mean that he released his fingers when the red lights went off, and that’s Sebastian Vettel’s point, because it would be a tenth of a second, or slightly less than that, between the fingers releasing the clutch and the moment the rear wheels start to propel the car and the front wheels start turning.
“So I think we’re looking at a case, and this will be confirmed at Silverstone, that Valtteri’s fingers anticipated and perhaps jumped the start, but his car didn’t jump the start and that is why he was in the clear and won the race.”
HAMILTON EXPLAINS HIS ANGST
Lewis Hamilton has pleaded for understanding about his perceived post-race unhappiness at the Austrian GP after falling 20 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the title race.
Hamilton could only finish fourth at the Red Bull Ring, two places behind Vettel, while Mercedes teammate Bottas reignited his own championship bid with his second win of the season.
“I think it’s important for people who are watching, and also people who are reporting, to have patience with us drivers,” said Hamilton.
“You can’t be happy when you don’t have a result. You sacrifice everything to get the best result possible.
“When you personally don’t deliver and when things stack up against you, it’s hard to come out smiling. That would mean you don’t care enough. The fact is, I care.”
Throughout a weekend overshadowed by the fallout from his collision with Vettel in Baku, Hamilton’s body language in Austria was interpreted as subdued and downbeat.
It subsequently emerged that Mercedes had informed their driver at the start of the week he was facing a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, and Hamilton’s difficult weekend ended in frustration when he was unable to find a way past Daniel Ricciardo in the final laps to rescue a podium finish.
“There are some days that are more painful than others, and there are some days that are easier,” said Hamilton.
“When you write stories or people comment, please just bear that in mind. It’s not a sign l am ungrateful or anything like that.
“It’s just the intensity of the battle, which I am loving, and the team are loving. But I want to win this championship. Right now I am 20 points behind but there is a long, long way to go and it could turn around in one race.”
The next race is in a week’s time at the British GP where Hamilton will be striving to cut the deficit to Vettel having been denied victory in Baku when his headrest became loose and finishing off the podium in Austria for the fourth time this season despite setting the fastest lap of the race.
“All I can do is try to inspire with my drives. When I went and looked at the race pace I was quickest. I had the strongest race pace.
“When I got past the Force Indias, I was something like 16 seconds behind Valtteri. Then there was another bunch of seconds I lost but at the end I was only six seconds behind Valtteri.
“So it was actually pretty positive. There’s nothing more l can do. I just need to keep driving the way I am.”