In The Driver's Seat

Nothing false about Bottas' deserved win

The Austrian Grand Prix might have been a very slow-burn event that bordered dangerously on the soporific for too many of its 71 laps. But in the end it delivered with a nail-biting climax for the win, and for the final podium position.

Valtteri Bottas earned his spurs with a superb victory after making the start of his life and then backing it up with the drive of his life.

That is why it was disappointing when both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo later chose to cast aspersions on the veracity of the Finn's achievement, as if he somehow lucked in by getting away with something dodgy.

Clearly, both thought he had jumped the start. So, too, did the race stewards, who initiated an investigation just to be sure either way. That's their job, to ensure the playing field always remains even.

It was then announced on television screens that the investigation had been concluded to their satisfaction and no fault was found: Bottas was clean, no case to answer.

It's also understandable that both Vettel and Ricciardo, who did not yet have the benefit of being told of the decision over their radios, had not got over it. It's human nature to want to go through it and clear things up. But the stewards had already done that.

FOM Timing handles this side of the F1 operation for the FIA. It has sensors everywhere, on the cars and embedded in the track surface on the grid. The days of the old Italian Grands Prix at Monza when a local official would start to raise the flag and the Ferraris would take off, are a long-gone part of racing's folklore.

It's like being pregnant. You can't be a little bit expectant. You're either pregnant, or you aren't. Bottas might have judged it with almost supernatural anticipation, but his test result said positive, meaning his car only  moved after the lights went out.

All the sensors and computer checks provide one immutable fact: a driver is either guilty or not guilty of jumping a start.

It's like being pregnant. You can't be a little bit expectant. You're either pregnant, or you aren't.

Bottas might have judged it with almost supernatural anticipation, but his test result said positive, meaning his car only moved after the lights went out.

The winner deserved better than to hear two contemporaries either side of him, effectively questioning whether he ought to have been allowed to claim what was his second career grand prix victory.

Yet the Finn kept his cool and was nothing but gracious.

It did not sit particularly well with me that the man pointing his annoying fingers is Vettel, the villain of Baku who truly had been lucky to get away with something in Azerbaijan.

It was unsporting, but then as he proved, until he gets summoned to Paris to go through videos, he seems unable to accept any scenarios that do not agree with his own interpretation of an event.

I was a little surprised and disappointed that Mr Nice Guy Ricciardo also threw in his two cents, though he did at least concede that Bottas had got lucky in anticipating the lights. No luckier than Ricciardo was in Malaysia last year, or in Baku last time out.

One man's luck is another's judgment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline 'Nothing false about Bottas' deserved win'. Print Edition | Subscribe