Williams: No concern over Russell’s clash with Bottas at Imola

Williams Formula 1 team principal Simon Roberts insists the team has “no concern” over George Russell’s attempt to pass Valtteri Bottas which led to the pair clashing at Imola.

Williams: No concern over Russell’s clash with Bottas at Imola

Russell lost control and slid into the Finn’s Mercedes when he made a move on the outside heading into the first chicane.

Both cars crashed heavily, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff subsequently made it clear that he was not happy that Russell had tried what he felt was a risky pass and triggered the crash.

Williams had already lost the car of Nicholas Latifi in an accident in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and so finished the day with two badly damaged FW43B cars.

Despite the obvious frustrations stemming from both the damage and lost points-scoring opportunity, Roberts says that Russell was right to have attempted the pass on Bottas.

“It's very difficult isn't it?” Roberts admitted. “You've got a driver, he was in a good position, his track position was on merit. I’ve watched the video of him coming out of Turn 18, in my mind there's absolutely no question that [it] looked like an overtake was on.

“So we have absolutely no concern or criticism of what George did, we think that [it] was the right thing to do.

“Clearly it didn't work out, and there's reasons for that. And it's easy in hindsight to roll back and get into minutiae. But for me it goes back to the exit of Turn 18. It was a good exit, he got traction, he was in the slipstream, he had DRS. Why wouldn't you go for it? But the track was wet on the right-hand side. As I say, really easy in hindsight.

“That was the conversation I remember having with George. That's what we expected him to do. It was good. It didn't work out, it didn't work out for him, it didn't work out for us. That's racing.”

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

Roberts denied the suggestion that it was an aggressive move by Russell.

“I don't think it was particularly aggressive, to be honest. I don't know what people see,” he said. “I was watching the on-board at the time. That wasn't in my book an aggressive, pushy move. But it didn't end well, and I can't get away from that, and neither can George.”

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Roberts is hopeful that the pace of the car at Imola, where both drivers comfortably made Q2, can be repeated.

“Certainly that track suited our car and the conditions,” he said. “Not [in] the wet, but the track in general and the layout definitely suited what we took along that weekend.

“If you look back, in Bahrain the car looked like it had made less progress. In reality we’re somewhere between the two. There was nothing special there, that was our car on that day and that weekend with our drivers. Nicholas was quick too.

“So our hope and expectation is there will be other events this year where we're in at least as good a position, maybe better, depending on lots of things. It's a combination isn't it? It's the track, it's the weather, it's the tyres, it's all got to chime in. But it did for us that weekend, until the race.

“I'm really pleased that we could show that there's been really good progress made over winter, and it's nice not only for the fans but also everyone back at the factory to see that the car can get up in the midfield. To be fighting for P9 was great, it was really fabulous.”

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