Formula 1

Russell: Actions after Imola Bottas crash "very poor judgement"

Williams driver George Russell has called his actions in remonstrating with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas immediately after their crash in the 2021 Imola Formula 1 race “very poor judgement”.

Russell climbed from his wrecked FW43B and ran to accost Bottas while the Finn was still sat in his own badly damaged car after the pair had crashed battling over ninth place last time out in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

It was a crash that was judged a racing incident by the Imola stewards, after Russell’s right-side wheels had hit a damp patch of track leading up the Tamburello chicane.

In the pre-event press conference for this weekend’s Portuguese GP at Portimao, Russell was asked how he now reflected on the incident – after he initially gave fiery assessments regarding the event to the media at Imola and then issued a statement apologising to Bottas the day after the race.

Mercedes junior Russell said: “Having had a week, even just an evening [immediately after the race], to let the emotions calm down and reflect on everything, I think the incident is one thing – it’s part of racing and these things do happen.

“I think the actions I did afterwards were not my true self.

PLUS: Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

“I sort of went against my instincts to walk away and almost show a bit of emotion, which was probably a very poor judgement call in the heat of the moment.

“[And that] led on to a few more things later that afternoon. That’s why I felt like it was necessary for me to put [the statement] out on Monday morning to apologise for my actions.

“Because I do want to lead by example and I do want to be a role model and those actions after the incident were not ‘leading by example’.”

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

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

When asked if he had been spoken to by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, Russell replied: “Yeah, of course – Toto and I have spoken extensively since the incident.

“The contents of that will remain private, but he’s been very supportive, very constructive.

“Our relationship has not been damaged at all following the incident – if anything, quite the opposite. And likewise with everyone at Williams.”

Russell also highlighted his promising pace and position in the Imola race before the crash with Bottas, saying Williams should be “proud of the progress” it has made to have been “fighting for points on merit”.

“[Williams has] been incredibly supportive,” Russell said of his current team, which had also lost Nicholas Latifi in an opening lap crash at Imola on a weekend where it had showed very good pace in practice and qualifying compared to its ‘Class C’ rivals.

“They want me to attack, go for opportunities and we’re proud to have been in that position.

“We were in 10th position fighting for points on merit. We’d been there at points last year, but through fortunate opportunities – of other cars retiring.

“But we were truly there on merit, going for an overtake.”

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