Russell stokes tension after Bottas collision
The biggest, most contentious talking point from Imola was the heavy accident that played out between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell which caused the red flag interruption on lap 34. Both blamed the other on a day when neither covered themselves in glory.
Bottas was already having a horrible time after starting a disastrous eighth on the grid and having been given the hurry-up by his boss Toto Wolff. Now a Williams, of all cars, had a run on him on the drag to Tamburello – and of course, it had to be that driver. Russell pulled to the right, but the sudden rising revs from his Mercedes engine were the tell-tale his right rear had lost grip, and at nearly 190mph the left-front wheel of the Williams crashed into the side of the black Mercedes. Both drivers were fortunate to escape injury in the impacts that followed, before Russell jumped from his car, remonstrated with the still cockpit-bound Bottas and took a light swipe at his rival’s helmet. Not very clever, especially as this is the guy he’s likely to either be teamed with or replace next year.
Afterwards, Russell made it worse by suggesting Bottas defended harder than he might have done, because it was George chasing him down. No surprise the Finn scoffed at that one as a madcap conspiracy – and Toto Wolff made it all too clear he was deeply unimpressed with his young protégé’s behaviour. Russell will likely have some work to put in over the coming weeks to avoid this unseemly drama turning into an overblown crisis.
As for the collision, the stewards judged it a racing accident – which was probably fair. Both drivers played their part, as did the narrow funnelling of Tamburello’s approach at a dated and demanding circuit that all weekend highlighted drivers’ weaknesses all too starkly.