George Russell says he intends to call Valtteri Bottas this week to “clear the air” following their collision in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The two drivers came together at top speed on the run to the Tamburello chicane as Russell tried to overtake Bottas, losing control of his Williams on the wet part of track after what he perceived to be a movement to the right from the Finn. After angrily approaching Bottas in his car and accusing him of a lack of respect for the conditions, as well as racing him differently to other drivers, Russell plans to call the Mercedes driver to discuss it further.
“Well Valtteri and I have seen each other with the stewards, I suspect it will be deemed a racing incident, and that’s how we both saw it,” Russell said before the lack of a penalty was confirmed. “Valtteri and I will talk afterwards and will clear the air. In the heat of the moment there is a lot of emotions, but I’ve got no intentions to hold any grudges or have any bad relationship with any driver on the grid.
“It’s in my intentions to clear the air with him, I’m sure we’ll have a phone call with him this week to put it behind us and move on. We’re all racers, we’re all battling for position, and in the moment it is incredibly disappointing, sore, for all of us, and your heart stops for a moment when you crash at over 200mph. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“My anger towards him at the time was more I thought he put us both in harm’s way and it was an incredibly scary incident at that speed. Fortunately, we both walked away with it without battle scars but obviously it could have been very different.”
Thanks for all the messages. I'm fine, just disappointed. At the end of the day, it's an unfortunate incident. You're entitled to defend your position. But at 330kph, you have to respect the speed and the conditions when doing so. Gutted for the team. They deserved more today.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 18, 2021
After cooling off a bit on Sunday night, Russell also admitted he didn’t feel Bottas did anything outside of the rules in his defense, but still claims the Finn could have done more to avoid the situation becoming so risky.
“I think it could have been avoided,” Russell added. “Valtteri was defending hard, and he is within his right to do so, the track was going left, he was going straight. It seemed much clearer on the CCTV footage we saw. Like I said, he’s entitled to do that but in these conditions, with one dry line, only had one outcome, and that was unfortunate.
“He did everything… his maneuver was within the rules and within his right, but it could have been avoided. There should have been a bit more respect for the speed and condition, in my opinion.”
And Russell also downplayed his immediate reaction, where he angrily approached Bottas in the cockpit of his wrecked Mercedes and finished remonstrating by hitting his helmet.
“Slap is a very strong word,” he said. “It was nothing more than a brush. I doubt he even felt it. It was more of a what are you doing, not a… I’m sure maybe a footballer would have reacted in a very different way but there was nothing menacing there, almost as if you’re throwing your arms in the air.”