Bottas: Russell has "quite a theory" over Imola F1 defending after crash

Valtteri Bottas hit back at George Russell's suggestion he may have defended differently against another driver after their Imola Formula 1 crash, calling it "quite a theory".

Bottas: Russell has "quite a theory" over Imola F1 defending after crash

Bottas and Russell crashed out of Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after colliding on the approach to Turn 2 when battling over ninth position.

Russell was gaining rapidly on Bottas down the main straight and moved to the right-hand side of the track to try and overtake, only to hit a wet patch and lose control of his car.

Russell's Williams speared to the left and into the Mercedes of Bottas, causing significant damage to both cars and leaving debris strewn across the track, causing a red flag.

Both drivers were quick to blame each other, with Russell claiming Bottas broke a gentleman's agreement over minor movements at high-speed.

Russell also questioned why Bottas was defending so aggressively over ninth place, saying: "Perhaps if it was another driver, he wouldn't have. So that's what went through my mind."

Russell has been tipped as a possible successor to Bottas at Mercedes, potentially as early as 2022, given he is part of its young driver programme.

Asked about Russell's comment, Bottas replied: "Sorry, I lost my aluminium foil hat somewhere. It's quite a theory.

"I'm always going to defend to any driver, I'm not keen to lose any positions. That was normal defending. It could have been a lot more aggressive if needed.

Marshals clear the damaged car of Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, from the gravel trap

Marshals clear the damaged car of Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, from the gravel trap

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

"I don't agree with any of that at all. I was doing my thing. No matter who I would have been defending, it would have been exactly the same.

"Obviously he knew exactly that it was going to be damp there, because we have gone there lap after lap. And I knew as well, and it was just not a place to go in those conditions on slicks.

"But he still went there. It was his choice to go there, I was doing my job trying to defend, and I'm not going to move away and give him the dry patch back. That's how it goes."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff refused to fully apportion blame to either driver, but said that Russell had "lots to learn" and should have not tried to overtake where he did.

Bottas spoke to both Wolff and to Russell about the incident, meeting with the latter when they spoke to the stewards investigating the clash, who opted to take no action.

"The overall feeling is that I'm not one to blame for that crash, for sure," Bottas said.

"I don't want to speak anything about our private discussions with Toto. But the feeling is I'm definitely not one to blame on that.

"But the main thing we need to focus on is why I was in that position. Obviously I had quite a struggle with the inters, being stuck behind Lance [Stroll] all through the inter section of the race.

"When I stopped, obviously got pressure from the guys behind who stopped earlier and got their tyres working already. That [tyre] warm-up was the bigger issue."

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