Upon departure, Valtteri Bottas moved before the lights stopped, then took off. Looking at the footage, many expected a penalty for the Finn, but it never fell. FIA race director Michael Masi recalled that the detection sensor was authentic and that it had a margin of tolerance, which saved the driver Mercedes in the same way as Sebastian Vettel had been spared in Japan last year.
“There are two aspects”, explains Michael Masi. “The means of determining that there is a false start is clearly stated in the sporting regulations, and it has been the same process for several years, namely that the transponder installed on each car serves as a mechanism for judging. a sensor in the runway too. There is a tolerance, as we saw in Japan last year, and that is the determining factor. So there was no need to investigate. We immediately spoke with the timekeepers, they looked at all the data, and it ended there. “
Bottas escaped a sanction, but it is not the case of other pilots, and more particularly of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in Haas. Both of them, celebrating at the start of the race thanks to the daring tire choice made at the end of the formation lap, received a penalty of ten seconds. The instruction given by the team to return to the pit before departure was against the rules.
“There was a technical directive in 2017 to clarify what communications between the team and the pilots can be during the training lap: it is linked to Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, specifying that the pilot must pilot the car alone and without help “, underlines Michael Masi. “Part of the convocation is linked to the fact that the pilots were called by their engineers to change tires during the training lap, which is not allowed under this technical directive. The only communication authorized during the training tour concerns security issues, so if there is an imminent security concern. “