The incident during the Emilia Romagna GP between Valtteri Bottas, a current Mercedes F1 driver, and George Russell, potential future Mercedes F1 driver has sparked a lot of controversies.
After the Brit got onto the wet grass that is lining the track, lost control and spun, which ended in Bottas additionally hitting his car that resulted in both of the drivers being out of the race and causing a red flag. After the incident, Russell was extremely critical of the Fin, with who’s seat he has been linked for 2022. George believed that if that would be anybody else on the grid, Bottas wouldn’t behave the way he did with him.
“It could have been avoided. And there should have been a little bit more respect” said Russell in the media session after the GP at Imola. “No battle scars but….it could have been very different.”
Having examined more footage from the CCTV and other available videos of the crash, Russell admitted that Bottas was “probably not in the wrong” when it comes to their high speed crash at the entrance to Tamburello. Although Russell has previously put the blame on the Fin, even asking him after the shunt that caused a red flag if he “tried to kill them both”, the young Brit admitted that he slightly changed his outlook on the incident.
As Russell said: “When you can review everything and look at it in slow motion and everything, and from certain camera angles, it all looks very, very different. One camera angle makes it look one way, another camera angle, like I said, when you watch it from behind on the CCTV footage it looked quite clear, in a different opinion.
“I was more frustrated because of the speed of the incident. I’ve never, ever had a crash at the end of a straight when we’re absolutely flat-out, and we’ve all seen the dangers of motorsport very recently and to be honest I would have reacted exactly the same had it been battling for the win, battling for ninth or battling for last. Because I just thought it was unnecessary and it was avoidable.
“As I said, Valtteri did nothing that was outside the rules, but you have to take an element of responsibility and consideration into the fact of the conditions. There’s certain things you can do in certain ways when everything’s stable, but when it’s a damp track, there is a kink, and you’re pushing someone towards the grass, onto the damp patches at over 200 miles an hour. There is a high risk of an incident, and that is why I was very disappointed because I just thought that was beyond a lack of respect, really, not towards me, but just a lack of respect towards these cars.”
The young Brit was asked if his approach towards the overtake move he made was changed by the fact that he was fighting for a position with a Mercedes, which could potentially become his employer in the future (due to his ties to the team), but Russell disagreed with that statement.
As he said: “I’ve never been in a position where I’m fighting against a Mercedes. Williams has not been fighting against Mercedes for probably five years. So it’s not even crossed my mind how I would fight against a Mercedes.
“As I said, it was not a reckless move. The move was totally on. Valtteri defended hard, and he was fair to do so. But we were three quarters of the way down the so-called straight. It wasn’t like I lunged him from 20 metres back and crashed into the side of him.
“It was unfortunate, the incident would not have happened if it wasn’t damp and if DRS was closed. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
After all, he agreed that his outlook on the crash has been altered, but he believes he did the right things trying to pass Bottas. As Russell said: “Could it have been avoided? Yes. Was Valtteri in the wrong? Probably not. Could he have done something slightly more? Maybe. Was I in the wrong? I caused the crash by spinning, but was I wrong to go for that overtake? Absolutely not. You would have been foolish to lift at that position.”
Although thankfully no driver was harmed, this incident definitely brings an interesting dynamic onto the grid. It has been speculated for a long time already that for the season of 2022 we will see Russell in the Mercedes car, potentially replacing Bottas if Sir Lewis Hamilton will decide to continue racing in F1. Although Russell’s overtake move eventually ended up in the barriers, it definitely shows the level of commitment and racing spirit of the young Brit. If the track wouldn’t be wet, we could have potentially witnessed a great overtake, considering the fact that Bottas’ performance during the Emilia Romagna GP was not the greatest, and he was limping on the 8th-9th-10th place before the incident.
And let’s not forget one of them was behind the wheel of a Mercedes, while the other was behind the wheel of Williams, which although has seen great amounts of improvement especially during the period of the winter break, is definitely not a car that is capable of fighting in the top.
Valtteri Bottas is definitely under the critical glares from everybody, including others on the grid and people working with him, and will this be the final chance for him to redeem himself, and prove he should stay in the Mercedes car instead of it being given to Russell? Although both have said there is no tension between them, it will definitely be interesting to observe how the situation plays out in to course of this season, that so far has been serving us some great racing and a magnitude of emotions.