June 16, 2021

Russell accepts he took too much risk with “team mate of sorts” in Imola crash | 2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

George Russell has accepted Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff’s claim that he raced too hard against Valtteri Bottas when the pair collided during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled the collision, which put both drivers out of the race, was a “racing incident”. However Wolff said afterwards that Russell, as a Mercedes junior driver, should have exercised more caution while racing against one of the works team’s cars.

“I guess when a driver doesn’t go for a gap, he isn’t a racing driver,” Wolff said after the crash. “On the other side, maybe it was too aggressive considering that it was a Mercedes and the track was drying up.”

On Sunday evening at Imola Russell insisted “the move was totally on”. But speaking to Channel 4 ahead of this weekend’s race he said he accepted Wolff’s view that he should have given more room to a Mercedes.

“There was a lot of things I have taken away from it,” he said. “I think firstly as a racing driver one of the rules is that you should never crash with a team mate and for me personally obviously Valtteri is a in a different car but I am a Mercedes-backed driver, I am in the position because of Mercedes.

“Lewis and Valtteri are team mates to me of sorts. And I think that is one thing that didn’t go through my mind in the heat of the moment.”

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Russell issued a public apology on the Monday after the race. He said he felt this was necessary in light of his reaction to the crash, in which he confronted Bottas and asked him if he was “trying to kill us both”.

Analysis: Why Wolff was wrong to tell Russell he should have backed down against Bottas

“As the stewards deemed it, it was a racing incident, it was unfortunate,” said Russell. “But I was just disappointed in myself with how I reacted afterwards.

“I felt like I wasn’t me. I went against my own instincts to walk away from the incident because I wanted to show a bit of emotion. And, to be honest, my emotions were incredibly high having just crashed at 200mph. So many things ran through my mind.”

However Russell said he does not intend to change his approach when racing against rivals from other teams.

“It isn’t going to change my racing approach when I’m racing against competitors. If I see an opportunity, if I see a gap, I’m going to go for it.

“But definitely I’ve learned that I need to handle things differently afterwards. I need to really take the full picture in before giving a rash judgement to the situation which is what I did on Sunday night. And hence why I felt like it was important to put an apology out there for the people that I felt I let down with those actions after the race.”

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