Max Verstappen rages at George Russell after sprint race collision in Baku
Max Verstappen called George Russell a “d***head” following their sprint race collision at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez raced past pole-sitter Charles Leclerc to win in Baku, with Verstappen third and Russell fourth. Lewis Hamilton finished seventh.
Verstappen vented his anger at Russell following an altercation on the opening lap which left him with a hole in the side of his Red Bull.
A closer look at the tense encounter between Max and George on Lap 1! 👀 #AzerbaijanGP #F1Sprint pic.twitter.com/C1JOnQ8uQ4
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 29, 2023
Verstappen confronted Russell immediately after the race and in full glare of the television cameras.
Russell, still with his crash helmet on, protested his innocence to the double world champion.
“I didn’t do it on purpose, mate,” he said. “I had no grip. I just locked up.”
Verstappen replied: “Mate, we all have no grip, we all need to leave a little bit of space.”
Happy with P4. We’re here to race and give it everything and that’s what we did. Time to move on. 👍 pic.twitter.com/gpSVLVhTmA
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 29, 2023
Russell started walking away from Verstappen before adding: “Watch the onboard (camera).”
Verstappen answered: “Yeah, sure. Well expect next time the same. D***head.”
Verstappen had been in an agitated mood throughout Saturday’s 17-lap dash following the early altercation. He started third but had Russell for company at the first corner.
Verstappen kept ahead before Russell sensed his next opportunity at the second bend.
Russell then nudged Verstappen under braking before carrying the momentum through to turn three to move ahead of his Red Bull rival.
“He tapped me,” yelled Verstappen, who grazed the wall. “That’s how he got the position, report it.”
Moments later, the Red Bull driver was back on the radio. “Did he really drive into the side of me? I don’t get how he can damage my car and keep the position. I find it ridiculous,” he said.
A safety car – deployed when Yuki Tsunoda lost a tyre after he smashed into the wall – came in at the end of lap five and Verstappen made short work of taking third back from Russell when he flew underneath the Mercedes driver at turn one.
Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase congratulated his driver. “Without contact as well,” he said. “Nicely done.”
“Yes, I know how to do that,” replied Verstappen. A series of bleeped-out expletives followed.
Verstappen, who in the past has had numerous collisions with Russell’s Mercedes team-mate Hamilton, then carried his anger over to the post-race press conference.
Max Verstappen did not hold back on his thoughts regarding Russell's Lap 1 moves 😬#AzerbaijanGP #F1Sprint pic.twitter.com/Fc0W9fTUMU
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 29, 2023
“I did leave him (Russell) enough room,” said the Dutchman. “He got through the corner without hitting the inside barrier, but apparently it is hard not to hit a Red Bull car for them.” Them being Mercedes.
Damon Hill then accused Verstappen of being a “sore loser”.
Speaking on Sky Sports, the 1996 world champion sarcastically said: “We should just give Max Verstappen the championship and just not bother with anything else.
“Salty. Poor loser. It’s the same competition. He should be thinking about tomorrow and the championship and putting it behind him.”
Tellingly, the coming together between Verstappen and Russell was not investigated by the stewards.
“I’m here to fight, I’m here to win and I’m not just going to wave him by because he is Max Verstappen in a Red Bull,” said Russell.
“When he came over to me I thought he was coming to say ‘good battle, nice fight’. I was very surprised at how angry he was.
“From my side, his position was already lost. Ever since eight-year olds in go-karts, if you are on the inside at the apex of a corner then it’s your corner. If a driver is trying to resist a position on the outside they are taking a huge risk.
“On lap one, on a street circuit, I was really quite shocked that he was trying to hold the position.”
Saturday Sprint Fever 🕺 pic.twitter.com/i4rzRsstNu
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 29, 2023
Verstappen’s championship lead was reduced from 15 points to 13 after team-mate Perez cruised past Leclerc on the eighth lap before cantering to the flag.
For Sunday’s 51-lap Grand Prix, Leclerc starts on pole position, with Verstappen alongside him on the front row.
Hamilton, who on Saturday started sixth and then dropped a position after he was passed by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, starts fifth on the grid.