Valtteri Bottas’s perfectly timed launch in the Austrian Grand Prix may have looked like a jump start, but it wasn’t. If it had been though it would have been by the finest of margins, which would be kind of understandable as drivers attempt to anticipate the moment the lights go out and the race begins.
But for these drivers (and one rider) there can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they jumped the start. In fact, in many cases they’re off and running before anybody else is even thinking of dropping the clutch. Here are six of the most colossal jump starts in motor racing.
As jump starts go, this is fairly massive - he was going before any lights had even come on! V8 Ute driver Richard Mork had reverse grid pole at Philip Island and shot off into the lead as a result of the huge jump.
Later he said his foot had slipped off the clutch and he’d just decided to go for it, but it was later suggested he’d done it on purpose - according to this comment on Reddit Mork is a slower driver who was uncomfortable being at the front and made the jump to stop him being swamped at turn one. Whether or not that’s true is unknown, but it’s still downright hilarious.
Of course Pastor Maldonado made a massive jump start during his F1 career - if you didn’t know that already, then it’s surely the least surprising news of all time. Whilst Spa 2012 is most famous for that first lap crash caused by Romain Grosjean, Maldonado was busy being…well, Maldonado.
He’d qualified a superb third but had a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in Q1. Maybe Lord Pastor felt he’d been wronged so used his skills to work out the perfect time to jump the start by for him to be third by the first corner - because that’s where he was!
Perhaps he should have gone a bit earlier though, as he wasn’t far enough ahead of the accident to avoid being spun by Sergio Perez. Oh Pastor.
Jean Alesi always was a bit good at starts during his time in F1 - often because he’d sometimes cheekily roll a bit before the lights went out - but this start in the Speedcar Series was on another level.
We’ll forgive you if you’ve never heard of the Speedcar championship - it was a short-lived stock car championship that only ran for two seasons, featuring a mixture of young drivers and old legends. Perhaps it’s most memorable moment came at Bahrain in 2009 when Alesi committed this enormous jump start.
Coming off the final corner he simply floored it, way too soon, but when he realised he didn’t slow down again, oh no. Jean just kept his foot in and passed half the field on the grass to shoot into the lead of the race. No matter how many times you watch this clip it never stops being hilarious. Classic Jean!
Motorcycle riders aren’t immune to jump starts either. In fact they tend to be a bit more common, but they usually only go a fraction of a second too early. That wasn’t the case for Jorge Lorenzo at the Circuit of the Americas in 2014 though!
He decided to go when the red lights came on, then realised his mistake and slowed down, before saying ‘screw it’ and nailing the throttle again. He later said his visor was covered in mosquitos and he had to take off a tear-off on the grid, something he never usually does. That apparently confused him and made him go at the wrong time. Whoops!
This massive jump start happened in 2016 during the Norisring round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. Luca Rettenbacher decided that the fifth red light coming on was his signal to go and shot through the middle of the pack. The laughter of the commentators pretty much sums it up!
And now for something a bit different. The 1999 European GP was a crazy race with a crazy result, and even the start had drama. The lights stayed on for an awfully long time before the field got going…except some of them did, and some of them didn’t.
Further back in the pack Marc Gene and Alex Zanardi were out of position on the grid, and the flashing yellow ‘aborted start’ lights came on so that things could be rectified.
The problem was they came on right when the drivers were expecting to react to the lights going out. The first five cars all took off as a result, as did a couple further back. David Coulthard realised his error and was almost rear-ended by Ralf Schumacher whilst Mika Hakkinen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen stopped alongside each other, no doubt a bit confused by what was happening.
It was a simple explanation for the mass jump-start (if you can call it that!), and nobody was penalised for jumping the gun. It did give us some quality Murray Walker commentary, though!