George Russell says Valtteri Bottas used a questionable defensive tactic that led to their huge crash in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and asked the Finn if he was trying to kill them both.
The Williams driver was trying to overtake the Mercedes using DRS on the run to Turn 2, and as he attempted to go around the outside as the track kinks left, his right tires — already on the wet part of the track — touched the grass and brought the two cars together at high speed. Russell approached Bottas while he was still sitting in the wrecked Mercedes and remonstrated with him.
The incident that brought out red flags in Imola 🚩#ImolaGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/Z18dCPXwOZ
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 18, 2021
“I was coming on Valtteri massively fast,” Russell told Sky Sports. “I had the slipsteam, I had the DRS; just as I pulled out he jolted very, very slightly to the right, which is a tactical defense that drivers of the past used to do. The sort of (Max) Verstappen move of 2015 — there’s a gentleman’s agreement that that is not what you do because it’s incredibly dangerous.
“In completely dry conditions I would have been fine but it just put me onto the wet patch and I lost it. An unfortunate incident but we are going at 200mph — you need to respect the speed and the conditions. One of those things.
“I asked him if he was trying to kill us both. 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.”
While Russell says he’ll speak to Bottas at a later time once they’ve both cooled off, he also suggested the Finn — who Russell is seen as a threat to for a future Mercedes seat — would not have defended in the same way had he been racing a different driver.
“We’re both grown men, we’ll have a conversation and talk about it, let the heat die down a bit. I’m sure he’s upset and frustrated with me as I am with him. The faintest of movements when you’re traveling at 200mph is actually quite a massive thing. It’s not just the speed, it’s the speed difference, I was probably doing 30mph quicker than him and about to overtake him. Perhaps if it was another driver he wouldn’t have done that.”