Bottas blames Russell, Russell blames Bottas and Toto Wolff needs to look at the pair’s big Emilia Romagna Grand Prix crash again.
Valtteri Bottas and George Russell were involved in a huge crash today, that left them both out of the race. The young Briton was trying to pass Bottas for P9, before the two made contact at Tamburello, which led to a massive crash that thankfully didn’t have serious consequences.
A visibly upset Russell marched to Bottas’ smashed Mercedes and started to tell him something, which led to the Finn giving him a one finger salute. Russell than tapped Bottas’ helmet and marched off. After the race the young Briton revealed what he said.
“I asked him if he was trying to kill us both,” Russell said.
“We’re going incredibly fast, we know the conditions… in his eyes he’s not really fighting for anything, a P9 for him is nothing, but for us it’s everything.
“I’m going for absolutely everything, the move would have been absolutely easy. There was absolutely no reason to jolt like that.
“It’s a gentleman’s agreement between the drivers because we’ve always said it will cause a massive collision one day and here we are.”
So Russell is claiming Bottas did a small jolt right at the time he was passing him, which led to him losing control of his Williams The young Briton further explained the aforementioned “gentleman’s agreement”.
“We’ve had this gentleman’s agreement that when there’s a faster car approaching with the DRS, you don’t jolt the steering wheel at the very last moment.
“I pulled out, I got the slipstream, I pulled out, and just as I pulled out, Valtteri moved very slightly, and that just put me off-line and put me onto the wet stuff.
“In perfectly dry conditions on a very ordinary circuit, it’s dangerous, let alone on a very narrow track when we are turning and there’s wet patches. So an unfortunate incident.
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“But equally, it’s been inevitable, an incident like that would occur when drivers make small moves like this.
“It’s the smallest of moves, but when you’re going at 220 mph, and you’re going 30 mph quicker than the car ahead, it’s massive.”
Because Russell is a member of Mercedes’ junior drivers programme and is believed to be a possible replacement for Bottas next year, he suggeststhe Finn would not have made the same move if he was being passed by any other driver.
“Obviously I was very pissed off and frustrated with him at the time,” Russell said.
“I’m fighting for P9, a P9 for him is absolutely nothing. Almost meaningless. He did a move that you would do if you were fighting for victory on the last lap of the race.
“It begs the question why he would do that for P9. Perhaps if it was another driver, he wouldn’t have. So that’s what went through my mind.
“Like I said, he’s not fully to blame, I don’t think I’m fully to blame. But it could have been avoided. I think this is a good example for the stewards, very minor movements like this will create crashes, and here we are.”
The Williams driver acknowledged Bottas surely thinks the incident was his fault.
“I’m sure from his perspective, he feels it’s my fault, I’ve got no doubts about that. Equally, he knows the closing speeds of these cars, when you’re behind with slipstream and DRS.
“He knows that is not the correct thing to be doing. Like I said, if you’re fighting for victory on the last lap of the race, maybe.
“But not in conditions like this and not mid-race when he is P9, which is nothing,” concluded the young Briton.
Sure enough, Valtteri Bottas does believe it was Russell’s fault.
“From my point of view I stopped for the dry tyres and it was a bit of a struggle to get them to work,” said the Finn.
“George got close and decided to go for a move. Obviously the track is quite narrow and there’s only one dry line and he went from the outside.
“I could see him earlier on the straight, then I noticed that he moved to the right,” the Finn said.
“From the replays I saw, I always left space for two cars to be there, but he obviously lost it and hit me, and that was game over.
“I haven’t spoken to him. I couldn’t hear a thing he was on about [when Russell was talking to him while he was still in the cockpit].
“I don’t really get it. It was clearly his fault and I don’t understand the rage.”
After the race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff gave his view of the incident between his current race driver and his junior driver.
“It was a bad shunt,” Wolff said.
“There wasn’t a lot of friendly exchanges between the two of them, but we need to look at it again because it takes two to tango.
“Maybe it’s not a 50-50, maybe it’s a 50-40, but I wouldn’t know in which direction.
“I haven’t seen George yet. I keep teasing him saying if he does a good job he can be in a Mercedes, if not we’ll be in the Renault Clio cup.
“Today we are more close to the Renault Clio cup,” joked the Austrian.
What are your thoughts, who is at fault here? Voice your opinions in the comments below!