Many people assume the only thing that separates racing drivers from mere mortals is the former’s fearlessness. In reality, though, the biggest point of differentiation is racers’ superhuman reactions.
Valtteri Bottas made that plainly clear during the start of Sunday’s Formula One Austrian Grand Prix. The Finn started from pole and got to Turn 1 without having to defend after he made a start that was as close to perfect as we’ve ever seen — and likely ever will.
It was so good, in fact, the FIA had to investigate to see if he set off too early. It determined he reacted to the lights going out in just 0.201 seconds — average human reaction time is 0.25 seconds — sparking lots of analysis of his onboard footage.
Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson broke down Bottas’ start frame-by-frame and found that his W08 EQ Power+ first moved forward literally in the same frame that the lights went off.
Not everybody thinks the FIA made the right call, however.
A GIF of the onboard footage reveals that Bottas’ car did slightly move before the start, though the FIA said it was within the tolerance that supposedly is written into the regulations, according to WTF1. The amount which a car is allowed to move before the start reportedly is kept secret so teams can’t use it to their advantage.
“In today’s instance, Valtteri Bottas did not exceed this (very small) limit before the start was given,” the governing body said in a statement, via WTF1. “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.”
We’d argue the FIA was more correct to call the Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver’s reaction “fortuitous” than it was to call it “accurate.”
Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas