Formula One: Why the Bottas Start in Austria is Legal

While the start that Valtteri Bottas made from his pole position in Austria was debated fiercely by his opponents, there is a concrete reason for his lack of a penalty.

At first glance, Valtteri Bottas’ start at the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix was incredible to behold. The Finn managed to wrangle himself around one of the trickiest things to pull off in F1: dropping the clutch early enough to capitalize on the lights going green, while not shifting the car too far forward to trip the sensors. For the first time in his career, Bottas has made the perfect start.

While there is certain to be a swarm of dissenters who will claim that any movement of the car before the lights drop is an infringement and therefore a false start, the FIA’s call for no penalty was the correct one, and here’s why:

When many envision what a false start looks like, they think of any movement that can give a driver an unfair advantage over their competition. And while the FIA’s regulations do prohibit drivers from moving their cars forward, the specifics of the limit for punishment are more lax than what many may believe.

The regulations do not strike out any and all movement of the car before the lights, rather, they penalize drivers who have who have moved their car 10 thousand of a second forward – whereas Bottas had only moved his car 3 thousand of a second forward. That’s why if one looks at the slow-motion footage of the start they can clearly see the Silver Arrow’s tires spin forward ever so slightly before the race start.

If the above isn’t enough to convince those that still maintain that he made a false start, perhaps the words of an FIA official will:

“In today’s instance, Valtteri Bottas did not exceed this (very small) limit before the start was given.

Simply put: he made an exceptionally accurate and fortuitous judgement call, anticipating the moment the lights went out with great precision.

Any movement prior to the moment the lights went out was within the tolerances allowed.” – FIA Spokesman

Any further willingness to debate the fact soon becomes an exercise in futility – unless one is willing to admit that they simply don’t believe in the rules and regulations that have been in place for over 20 years. Yes, learning something – especially when it flies in the face of your previously held dispositions isn’t pleasant – but after the length to witch the Vettel v. Hamilton incident in Baku was covered, there’s no sense in making mountains out of molehills over this one.