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Drivers question Bottas' flying F1 start

WINNING EFFORT: Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes AMG GP outpaces German driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (back)on his way to winning the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria.
WINNING EFFORT: Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes AMG GP outpaces German driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (back)on his way to winning the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria. CHRISTIAN BRUNA

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.”

Vettel extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 20 points by finishing second on Sunday, but was still ruing a missed opportunity after reducing Bottas' advantage to just 0.6s at the chequered flag.

"For sure, if I pass him at the start the race looks different,” Vettel said.

Third placed Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Austria.
Third placed Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Austria. VALDRIN XHEMAJ

"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.”

"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.”

Topics:  daniel ricciardo formula 1 sebastian vettel