Valtteri Bottas has explained that a light on his dashboard distracted him during the start procedure at Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix, as he plummeted down the order on the opening lap.
Bottas started from the front row of the grid in damp conditions at the Hungaroring but inched forwards before the start, stopped, and then suffered a slow getaway when the lights went out.
Bottas dropped down to sixth place before recovering to third, relinquishing the lead of the championship to race winner and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
“The best way I can describe it – I’m still slightly… I don’t know in detail what kind of lights went on but yes, I was looking at the start lights and, there was the five lights on, so really just waiting for them to go off,” said Bottas.
“Just before when the lights went off, something either turned on or off, I believe it was the main page of the dash changed to different colour or something – a pretty bright colour. That’s all what needed for me to react.
“I thought the lights went off, and anyway, I was kind of half-seeing the start lights because of the Halo and the position I was, so yeah. It was an odd situation. That’s all what I can explain now.
“I’m sure we’re going to review onboards and what exactly happened and I will make sure that nothing is going to be changing on the dash any more just at a crucial moment – because we don’t want any distraction like that in a sensitive moment.”
Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi went on to explain why Bottas was not penalised for moving before the lights went out.
“The means by why a false start is determined is clearly determined in the sporting regulations and has been the same process for a number of years,” he said.
“The transponder fitted to the car is the judgement mechanism, and there’s a sensor in the road in the track as well, there’s a tolerance within that, as we saw in Japan last year that is the determining factor. There was nothing further.
“We spoke to the timekeepers immediately and they reviewed all the data, and that was the end of the matter.”