George Russell stormed out of his Williams to confront an angry Valtteri Bottas following their collision which red-flagged the race at Imola.
Both were occupying top-10 positions and Russell was attempting an overtake on Lap 31 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix just moments after Lewis Hamilton, Bottas’ Mercedes team-mate, had also gone off track.
As the Williams car tried to go around the outside of Bottas, who was struggling after his P8 start, Bottas appeared to jink to the right towards Russell, which appeared to send him onto the wet grass, and as he lost control he swerved into the side of the Finn’s W12.
Both cars were sent spinning and hit the barriers hard – and it is fair to say the pair are not each other’s biggest fans at the moment.
Russell shouted over his team radio: “What the **** was he doing? Honestly, is he a ****** ***** or what?”, while Bottas could not believe it himself, saying “What the ****. Big one, all good.”
The drama was not done there though, as Russell stormed out of his car to go and confront the Mercedes man, giving him a not-so-friendly slap on the helmet after Bottas had shown him the dreaded middle finger.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) April 18, 2021
The collision left an awful lot of debris on the track, meaning the race had to be red-flagged.
Jolyon Palmer shared his initial reaction on 5 Live, saying: “It all happens in a flash. When you’re talking of margins of an inch here and there, I’m sure it would have felt to Russell as if there was no space but I think Russell’s on-board shows us there was space on the outside. It’s tight.”
Thanks for all the messages. I'm fine, just disappointed. At the end of the day, it's an unfortunate incident. You're entitled to defend your position. But at 330kph, you have to respect the speed and the conditions when doing so. Gutted for the team. They deserved more today.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 18, 2021
Meanwhile, Sky F1’s Martin Brundle said: “Valtteri wasn’t leaving him a whole lot of space. Russell had got a very big run on him with the DRS and the slipstream of course.
“There was a little jink right and left from Bottas, and at that point Russell has wandered onto the grass, the wet grass of course.
“George is going to say, ‘you veered right while I was alongside you and put me on the grass.'”
The drama will have caused a headache for Mercedes team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff, who manages Russell’s career and called him up from Williams to deputise for Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix when the World Champion had tested positive for COVID-19.
Russell, who shone at that race in Bahrain, has been strongly linked with a Mercedes race seat for 2022 – possibly in place of Bottas.