George Russell accuses Valtteri Bottas of trying to kill him after 200mph crash

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Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent
·4-min read
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George Russell called Valtteri Bottas a “f****** p***k” and accused the Mercedes driver of trying to kill him following their 200mph crash in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Russell was attempting to pass Bottas around the outside of the Finn’s Mercedes on the high-speed run to the opening corner in Imola on lap 32.

But the British driver dipped his front-right tyre onto the damp grass, causing him to lose control of his machine and spear into the side of Bottas’ Mercedes.

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Both men ended up in the wall with significant damage sustained to their respective cars.

A furious Russell, 23, yelled over the radio: “What the f*** was he doing? Honestly. Is he a f****** p***k or what?”

Russell, a member of the Mercedes junior academy and hopeful of a promotion from Williams to replace Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate next year, left the cockpit of his damaged machine before racing over to confront the Finn.

Russell leaned into the Mercedes and slapped Bottas’ crash helmet. Bottas raised his middle finger in response.

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In the moments after the dramatic coming together, Bottas said on the radio: “What a f****** c***.”

The race was suspended for 30 minutes to clean up the streams of debris from the accident.

“I asked him if he was trying to kill us both,” said Russell.

“We’re going incredibly fast and we know the conditions. In his eyes he’s not really fighting for anything. Ninth for him is nothing, but for us it is everything. I’m going for absolutely everything.

“I have never had a crash at the end of the straight when we are absolutely flat out.

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“We have all seen the dangers of motorsport, and to be honest, I would have reacted the same if I was battling for the win, for ninth or for last because I felt it was unnecessary and avoidable.

“Your heart stops when you crash at over 200mph. You don’t know what is going to happen.

“My anger at the time is that I thought he had put us both in harm’s way and it was an incredibly scary incident, but fortunately we both walked away without any battle scars. However, it could have been very different.”

Both drivers were hauled in front of the stewards but the accident was deemed a racing incident.

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Russell is in the frame to replace Bottas at Mercedes next season, and the Englishman added: “Perhaps if it was another driver he wouldn’t have done that.”

Later, the Briton said: “There is no tension between Valtteri and I but you can take that comment as you wish. It was pretty clear how it was intended. Maybe I am wrong, maybe he is fighting for every position.

“Valtteri and I will clear the air. I don’t intend to hold any grudges or have a bad relationship with any driver on the grid. He did nothing outside the rules but you have to take an element of responsibility and consideration of the conditions.

“When it is a damp track and there is a kink in the road and you are pushing someone onto the grass at over 200mph there is a high risk of an incident and that is why I was disappointed because I thought that was beyond a lack of respect.”