George Russell felt Max Verstappen ‘let himself down’ with Baku comments

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen and George Russell clash. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull and George Russell, Mercedes, clash after a sprint crash.

Max Verstappen did not hide his frustrations with George Russell after their Baku sprint collision, and Russell feels the Red Bull driver did not do himself justice with some of his comments in the aftermath.

The pair would tangle on the opening lap of F1 2023’s first sprint race in Baku, though continuing their scrap from there, it would be what happened one turn later which got Verstappen rather wound up.

With Russell having been unable to make the pass on Verstappen at Turn 2 when they made contact, the Mercedes driver tried again at the following corner, this time completing the overtake, though in Verstappen’s mind, he did so without leaving him a fair amount of racing room.

Verstappen would head over to Russell shortly after the sprint finished to discuss that incident, Russell explaining that his tyres were cold and that he was locking-up.

With Verstappen in no mood to accept that as an excuse, Russell walked away as Verstappen told him to “expect next time the same”, finishing by calling Russell a “d**khead”.

Russell looked to keep his post-sprint reaction to the incident more subtle, though did express his surprise at Verstappen’s anger, as well as over the fact that Verstappen went so defensive against him out on the track.

To that latter part, Verstappen quipped: “It’s not allowed because Princess George is there? That’s ultimately his problem!”

Russell would later tell media personnel that he does not want an apology from Verstappen, but he does believe that the two-time World Champion “let himself down”, although did not reveal which specific comment that was in reference to.

“I don’t need an apology at all,” said Russell.

“But he’s a two-time World Champion, leading the Championship again at the moment. It doesn’t bother me, but he probably lets himself down a little bit with those sort of comments.

“Max is a super good guy, a great, great driver, it’s just that words like that are a bit unnecessary.” recommends

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Russell confirmed that he has had the chance to watch the footage back of that Verstappen incident, and was actually “underwhelmed” with what he saw, having expected it to be bigger than what he saw.

“To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed at how little everything was,” Russell stated.

“I was expecting it to be a lot more. Obviously, there was a bit of contact, as there often is up and down the grid on Lap 1.

“I was expecting a bit more.”

Verstappen saw his lead at the top of the Drivers’ standings reduced to just six points as team-mate Sergio Perez claimed the sprint and Azerbaijan GP victory double.