George Russell has held his hands up for causing the collision between himself and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was lining up Russell for an overtake on Lap 26 of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, with the Dutch driver enjoying a grip advantage due to driving on fresher tyres than the Mercedes man.
Lining up an opportunity into Turn 12, Verstappen snuck alongside Russell – only for the Mercedes to completely chop across and straight into the side of Verstappen’s car. With carbon fiber littering off everywhere in the contact, both were lucky to avoid serious damage.
George Russell admits fault in Max Verstappen clash
With the race being neutralised under Safety Car due to debris on the track, both were able to pit for fresh tyres while Russell was given a five-second time penalty for the clash.
Verstappen went on to win the race after a thrilling duel with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, while Russell crossed the line in fourth – demoted to eighth as a result of the time penalty.
In a sport where drivers rarely admit fault, Russell has gained a reputation for being one of the more stubborn drivers at refusing to acknowledge his own part in incidents but, on this occasion, the Mercedes man fully owned his mistake.
“Yeah, it’s just another massively missed opportunity this weekend,” he told Sky F1.
“The incident with Max was totally my fault. I didn’t see him, he was totally in my blind spot going around Turn 11.
“I wasn’t really expecting the overtake there because we’ve got the big long straight with the DRS afterward.
“We were on course for an easy podium then, it was pretty straightforward. So we recovered to P4.
“But then the five-second penalty knocks us down to P8. Just this season is sort of one thing after another but then, ultimately, the pace wasn’t quite… it was strong, but not as strong as the Red Bull and the Ferraris.”
Russell explained that the damage actually wasn’t as severe as the sprinkling of carbon fibre initially suggested – it was the wheel cover that had been destroyed in the clash.
“It was just on the wheel cover. So, if anything, it probably would have helped my graining because it would have given me extra cooling,” he explained.
“But I think we learned that we had a few cuts in that tyre. So we did the wise thing to change that set of tyres.
“At the end of the day, we still recovered to P4. Even without the penalty, we’re very disappointed because we should have been on that podium. It would have been a nice way to semi-end up this season after such a disastrous one but yeah, I guess this just tops it off.”
2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, weighing in on the topic following Russell’s explanation, said he didn’t believe the incident warranted a time penalty.
“That was a really weird incident because it’s a corner where you don’t expect someone to come up the inside and, for George, I don’t know where he’s gonna go,” Button said.
“I mean, he could have gone straight on to get out of the way, but it’s a really tricky situation that he found himself in there.
“But Max also was in a position where he felt like he had to go for it. So it’s just one of those things. I don’t think he deserved the five-second penalty personally.”