Max Verstappen: Why shouldn’t I defend against ‘Princess George?’

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver George Russell with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell with Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has responded to George Russell’s comments, calling the Mercedes driver “Princess George” in the process…

A war of words between the two drivers kicked off on Saturday afternoon after the sprint race, when an aggrieved Verstappen confronted Russell in parc ferme after picking up damage following contact between the two cars on the opening lap.

With Russell defending his driving by saying he had cold tyres, Verstappen laughed off the explanation and, with Russell saying “Yeah, well what do you want me to do?”, an incensed Verstappen shouted at him: “Then expect next time the same, d**khead!”

Russell later explained the incident from his perspective to the media, saying: “I was down the inside and I think as a driver you know the risks when you’re on the outside.

“I’m here to fight, I’m here to win and I’m not going to hold back just because he’s leading the Championship. I was quite surprised he was still trying to hold it around the outside.

“It’s on a street circuit, he’s got a lot more to lose than I have.

“He’s got enough experience to know that if you’re trying to overtake a guy on the outside, there’s a risk that the guy on the inside is going to run wide into you and I don’t think anything would have been any different had the positions been reversed. None of the contact was intentional.”

Max Verstappen: George Russell’s reaction wound me up

Speaking to media after the Sprint on Saturday evening, Verstappen suggested that the reason he got so angry with Russell was due to the British driver’s nonchalance about the contact.

“At that moment, of course, I thought so [that he was a d**khead],” Verstappen told Dutch media, as quoted by GPBlog.

“If you now say ‘the hole (damage) was not my intention’, that says something,” Verstappen continued.

But, instead, with Russell telling Verstappen to watch the onboard footage, the Dutch driver was angered.

“But his reaction… ‘look at the onboards’ and ‘cold tyres’? Yes, we all have cold tyres. It’s just a bit churlish.” recommends

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Max Verstappen: Why shouldn’t I defend against ‘Princess George’?

With Russell revealing his surprise at how defensive Verstappen was willing to get against him on a day where the Dutch driver had far more to lose than him, the reigning World Champion questioned why he shouldn’t have done so.

“It’s not allowed because Princess George is there? That’s ultimately his problem!,” Verstappen retorted.

Given the performance difference of the two cars, Verstappen also pointed out the attack from Russell wasn’t necessary.

“It can go wrong very quickly,” he said.

“There’s no chance, I will overtake him again within three laps, so yeah, it doesn’t make much sense. Everyone has their own opinion and vision in the story, but I think I just gave him space, and then he just has to take that corner normally.

“If you sometimes make contact with the wheels, that can happen. It’s not ideal, but if you drive into someone else’s gap, then it is a bit more than just with the wheels together.”

As for what his expectations would have been had the roles been reversed, Verstappen said: “I have no idea what to do then, but he will expect me just to brake and say, ‘Please, go by!’ But that’s definitely not going to happen.”

Verstappen will start Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix from P2 on the grid, his Championship lead now cut from 15 to 13 points after team-mate Sergio Perez won the Baku sprint.