Formula 1

Russell: Bottas crash won’t harm my relationship with Mercedes

George Russell is confident his Formula 1 crash with Valtteri Bottas at Imola is not going to harm his relationship with parent team Mercedes.

Williams driver Russell collided with Bottas when trying to overtake the Mercedes car for ninth place in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, resulting in a big crash.

The incident eliminated both drivers from the race and brought out a red flag due to debris strewn across the track. It also caused Bottas’s car to almost be written off due to the amount of damage sustained.

Bottas and Russell blamed each other for the incident, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was unimpressed by Russell’s actions, saying he has “lots to learn” and should have been more mindful against a car from his parent team.

Russell issued an apology for Bottas on Monday evening, saying he “should have handled the whole situation better”.

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Speaking before issuing his apology, Russell said he was confident that the incident would not have a negative impact on his relationship with Mercedes.

Russell has been a member of its junior programme since 2017, and is widely tipped to one day succeed either Bottas or Lewis Hamilton at Brackley, perhaps as early as 2022.

“It’s not going to harm my relationship with Mercedes,” Russell said.

“I’ve already spoken with them, and there’s understandings from both sides.

“I’m sure from my side, when you are looking forward, you are not really taking into consideration of which car it is. But at the end of the day the move was absolutely on.

“It was only three-quarters of the way down straight and that would just have been a clear easy simple overtake, had it not been a little bit damp and that point.

“The point I pulled out, it wasn’t damp. It was just the track was going to the left, I was squeezed slightly to the right and that’s where the dampness was.”

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Russell went over to Bottas’s cockpit shortly after the crash and asked the Finn “if he was trying to kill us both” before tapping him on the helmet. Bottas responded by raising a middle finger to Russell.

“Should I have reacted how I did afterwards, in the heat of the moment? Probably not, no,” Russell acknowledged.

“But as I said, the emotions are incredibly high. We’ve exchanged words and that was it.”

Russell is planning to call Bottas this week to clear the air following their crash, while Wolff also said he intends to discuss the crash with Russell.

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