SPIELBERG, Austria, Jul 9 – A headstrong Sebastian Vettel continued to flirt with controversy on Sunday by accusing the victorious Valtteri Bottas of jumping the start at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The German, who finished second, rejected the evidence of official data and described the Finnish driver as ‘un-human’.
The championship leader, who escaped any sanction last Monday following his ‘road rage’ attack on Lewis Hamilton in last month’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, was evidently frustrated at being beaten again.
He called for an investigation into Bottas’ start immediately after his Ferrari was beaten off the grid by the triumphant Mercedes driver, and moaned after the race that he needed one more lap to catch and pass him.
He finished six-tenths of a second behind the Finn, whose second career victory moved him into contention for the drivers’ championship, in which he is 15 points behind Hamilton, who trails Vettel by 20.
Vettel said he accepted that the race stewards are the officials who have authority to judge the legality of a start, but was unconvinced when told that on-screen graphics from official television coverage showed Bottas’ reaction time, when the lights went out, was 0.201 seconds.
“From my point of view, he jumped the start – I was sure that he did,” said Vettel after the race. “It looked like it from inside the car, but it’s not for me to judge at the end of the day.
“It was quite tricky for me to keep standing still. It was ok, but with a bit of wheel-spin, early on…”
Asked to clarify his views, he added: “When I say I don’t believe, I don’t believe. Normally, the reactions are 0.2 for everyone so I don’t believe everyone was slower today.
“So, that is why I don’t believe Valtteri was so much quicker. I was a strong believer that he jumped the start, but it turns out he didn’t – that is why I don’t believe it.
“His start was un-human.”
Bottas said it was the best start of his life and most paddock observers, while conceding that it was close to a ‘jump’ start, said it looked like a perfect start.
“I think that was the start of my life, I was really on it today,” he said. “When the car was moving, the lights were off… That is the main thing.”
The Finn admitted his start involved some guessing and anticipation.
“There are different variations, since the lights are on and go off, but the variation for a long time has not been massive,” he said.
“So, you know, more or less, the zone when it is going off.
“So, gambling with your reaction and guessing sometimes you get a mega one or sometimes you are a bit late.
“Today was my best reaction for the lights. As long as it is positive, it is fine.”
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who finished third for Red Bull and who started the race behind Bottas, said he also felt that he jumped the start.
“The main thing is it was positive, but the lights were held for a long time — more than normal,” he said.
“There is always a window, but it seemed longer and you are waiting and waiting and he went, but the lights went out. I guess he got lucky.”