Valtteri Bottas has revealed that he accidentally reacted to lights on his Mercedes’ steering wheel at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, resulting in a slow start from second on the grid.
The error saw him drop to sixth by the first corner and the recovery drive that followed meant he finished in third behind Max Verstappen on a weekend when his car had the pace to finish an easy second behind teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas was not penalised for what appeared to be a jump start because his movement was within the tolerance allowed by the FIA, but he still lost crucial positions early in the race as his car kicked into anti-stall a result of the error.
“It was a pretty bad race, to be honest, for me,” he said. “Starting second, the goal was to win the race, but I lost a lot at the start.
“I reacted to a light in my dashboard; it went off and I don’t know what it was, but it changed my dash and I reacted to that instead of the start lights, so I got the anti-stall in. So, I had to do the start again and lost a lot of time.”
The red rev lights are directly in front of the driver on the top of the steering wheel and remain illuminated as long as the driver has the correct throttle input to make a start. Mercedes discovered after the race that the lights went out as he dipped off the throttle, and when combined with an obstructed view of the start lights, Bottas said he simply made an error.
“I was looking at the start lights, there were the five lights on, so I was just waiting for them to go off, but just before the lights went off something turned on or off — I believe it was the main page of the dash which changed in color, or something with a pretty bright color — and that was all that was needed for me to react, as I thought the lights went off.
“Anyway, I could only half see the start lights because of the halo, in the position I was, so it was an odd situation, that’s all I can explain now.
“I’m sure we’re going to review all the onboards and what exactly happen and make sure nothing changes in the dash in the future at just the crucial moment, because we don’t want any distractions like that in a sensitive moment.”