Martin Brundle labeled the dramatic run-in at Imola between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell a racing incident, but still reckons the Williams driver should have played the percentage game “more carefully”.
Russell spun into Bottas after putting a wheel on the grass while attempting to overtake the Mercedes driver on the run down to Tamburello. But the maneuver put both cars into the barrier and deprived both drivers – and crucially the Williams team – of a potential top-ten finish.
Russell initially blamed the Finn for the costly outcome but later revised his opinion before issuing a formal apology to Bottas on Monday for his harsh words expressed in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
“It was a crash which fits into the category of ‘I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often’,” wrote Brundle in his post-race column for Sky Sports.
“The track had a defined dry line with moisture present on both sides, and turn one is simply a left-hand kink. Bottas wanted to stay on the dry line, that’s totally his prerogative as long as he left space either side, which he did.
“It’s likely that Russell consciously or sub-consciously really wanted to pass the car which he is hoping to be driving next year with a touch of red mist involved.
“But he’s also a racer and had the due track position, slipstream and closing speed.
“With the aero balance forward due to the DRS rear wing being open, the curvature of the track, and driving onto the wetter part, his wheels spun up and he speared into the side of Bottas triggering a huge amount of damage.
“It was the second Williams smashed to pieces after Nicholas Latifi had connected with Nikita Mazepin on the opening lap.”
Brundle agreed that the crash had resulted from the specific set of circumstances in which it occurred. But that’s perhaps even more reason why Russell should have considered “the bigger picture” according to the Grand Prix veteran.
“I agree with the stewards that it was largely a racing incident given the track conditions,” added Brundle.
“I can’t see any blame for Bottas, and Russell needs to carefully consider if he should have seen the peril unfolding, backed out and waited for a less risky move, and also how he behaved after the shunt with his words and actions.
“He’s a young feisty racer seizing a passing opportunity, and you absolutely wouldn’t want to knock that out of him, but especially up against a works Mercedes he needed to consider the bigger picture and play the percentage game more carefully.
“Toto Wolff effectively controls both their careers and so I imagine that was an interesting conversation…”
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