George Russell says his crash with Valtteri Bottas at Imola was a “reality check” and a “massive lesson” in how to conduct himself.
One of the low points in the Williams driver’s career to date came at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix when, on the verge of points, he crashed into Bottas when trying to overtake the Finn, causing them both to retire from the race.
He was furious afterwards, swearing on the team radio, slapping the Mercedes driver on the helmet and criticising him in his post-race interview.
He later apologised for his behaviour, and looking back says the whole thing taught him how quickly things can go wrong in the sport.
“I guess that was a bit of a reality check,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.
“That in a split second, you can almost go from hero to zero, and your whole perception could potentially be changed, and your whole future could be changed.
“I think that was a massive lesson for me in how to handle myself, sort of post-crash and in front of the media. Even the crash itself, how things unfolded, whether it’s the right move to go for or not, and just the whole circumstance.
“I’d like to think I can look back and say that was an important lesson for me.”
Russell has been heavily linked with a move to Mercedes throughout the past year and now looks likely to take Bottas’s seat there for 2022 and beyond.
He says that, after the incident in Imola, while he didn’t think he did too much wrong inside the car, he realised he couldn’t make such errors again in terms of how he behaved afterwards if he wanted to be given a chance in a top car.
“I think I recognised very, very quickly that I couldn’t afford to make errors like that,” he added.
“Everybody has their own view, that it’s his fault or my fault. I have obviously got my own views and my own reasonings why I went for that.
“But going for a move is one thing, but then how you deal with the aftermath of it not panning out the way you wanted is a completely different story as well.”