Furious Max Verstappen brands George Russell ‘d**khead’ in Baku confrontation

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 made his frustrations quite clear in a post-sprint exchange with George Russell after the pair had collided on the opening lap.

Verstappen launched from P3 for the first sprint race of F1 2023, sharing the second row with Russell in the Mercedes, and when Russell saw an opportunity to pass the World Championship leader, it was an opening which he took full advantage of.

But, the move did not happen at the first attempt at Turn 1, Russell and Verstappen touching at Turn 2 before Russell made his way past the Red Bull driver and up to P3.

The incident left Verstappen enraged as Red Bull implored their driver to consider the bigger picture with the Grand Prix still to come on Sunday, though that theme of clean racing continued to crop up in Red Bull’s radio communication, including when Verstappen moved back past Russell later in the sprint – the Red Bull driver pointing out in a sarcastic tone he could get by his rival without making contact.

Red Bull told Verstappen that he had sustained floor damage from the collision, with post-sprint images showing a gaping hole in the left sidepod on Verstappen’s RB19.

And shortly after the cars had been parked up, Verstappen intercepted Russell to discuss that collision.

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“I had no grip, I was locking up” Russell told Verstappen, to which the Dutchman replied: “We all have no grip, we all need to leave a little bit of space.”

“Yeah, well what do you want me to do?” Russell responded as he walked away from Verstappen. “Then expect next time the same!” Verstappen shouted towards the Mercedes driver, signing off by calling Russell a “d**khead”.

Verstappen was unable to threaten Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after he had cleared Russell, meaning he was forced to settle to P3, with team boss Christian Horner suggesting that the damage was costing Verstappen a second per lap “at least”.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate and title rival Perez won the sprint, reducing his deficit to Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship to 13 points.