Christian Horner warns George Russell ‘elephant’ Max Verstappen will not forget

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the paddock at Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the paddock.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Max Verstappen will not forget his Baku collision with Mercedes’ George Russell in a hurry.

The pair collided at Turn 2 on the opening lap of the Baku sprint as Russell attempted to pass Verstappen, a move which he ultimately completed at the following corner, by which time Verstappen was running with a gaping hole in his left sidepod, a souvenir from that contact.

It was not only the RB19 overheating from there either, with Verstappen carrying huge frustration throughout the race from that Russell exchange, not only due to the contact, but also because he felt Russell had run him out of road at Turn 3.

Verstappen went on to confront Russell after the sprint, calling the Mercedes driver a “d**khead” as he walked away from the furious Dutchman, and Horner would explain that it was that pass at Turn 3, rather than the earlier contact, which he felt represented Russell really pushing the boundaries of acceptable racing.

“Turn 2 was hard racing between two hard racers, the bit that for me felt a bit over the top was Turn 3,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“There’s contact there [at Turn 2], George is trying to leave him enough space, but it’s a very tight corner, that’s where I think the damage to the sidepod was done.

“For me it was what happened at the next corner that I think George just runs him too far into the wall there. Unfortunately, the result of it was we ended up with quite a lot of bodywork damage, a big hole in the sidepod, and that cost him quite a bit of performance.

“Difficult to quantify, but when you see a hole like that in the bodywork, it’s got to be three quarters of a second a lap at least, maybe more, and then there’s other complications, temperatures start going out of control because the air is not running through the sidepods as it’s designed to do.” recommends

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Horner quipped that it was wise for Russell to keep his helmet on during that heated Verstappen exchange, adding that this incident is not one which Verstappen will forget any time soon.

There has already been a precedent set for that, Verstappen remembering a past occurrence with team-mate Sergio Perez, unknown beyond the Red Bull circle, which caused him to refuse to yield a position to Perez in Sao Paulo last season.

“I think he voiced his opinion to George, it’s probably a good idea he left his crash helmet on!” Horner said of that post-sprint bust-up between Verstappen and Russell.

“But you can understand that, he’s a competitive driver and when you get damage to your car and it affects your race, I’d be disappointed if he was just happy with that.

“He’s like an elephant, he’ll remember that, he’ll bank that for a while.”

Perez went on to win the Baku sprint while Verstappen finished P3, allowing Perez to cut Verstappen’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 13 points ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix.