Williams’ George Russell revealed that his crash with Valtteri Bottas in the Emilia Romagna GP triggered some “tough love” from Toto Wolff although the incident eventually strengthened his relationship with the Mercedes team boss.
Russell’s clash with Bottas at Imola was perceived by Mercedes as a run-in between teammates given that the Briton is contracted to and managed by the German manufacturer and Wolff.
Russell initially laid the blame for the crash on Bottas, in no uncertain terms, but then he apologized the next day and acknowledged his responsibility while also admitting that he should have been more cautious while dicing with “a teammate”.
“If anything, my relationship with Toto has grown since the incident in Imola,” said Russell in an interview with Autosport. “
“There was a lot of tough love. But he ultimately wants to extract the absolute maximum from me, or from what he believes I can achieve.
“And you know, I think I’m mentally strong enough to be able to take this stuff on the chin, take it on board, reflect on it, and come back stronger. Obviously, emotions were high… from all accounts.
“”But my relationships with everybody to be honest – from everyone at Williams and to a number of the key people at Mercedes, who I’ve spoken with since, is better than ever.
“I think often these difficult moments bring you closer together.”
Russell revealed that he had a sit down with Wolff and Mercedes tech boss James Allison after the race on the flight back to the UK.
“We had a very good conversation about it all,” Russell said. “I took the evening to reflect upon it, and that morning [the next day] and, to be honest, throughout the whole week.
“But as soon as I was back in my house on Sunday night, I knew what I did wrong. And it wasn’t necessarily crashing to be honest.
“They weren’t disappointed with me at crashing – although it was far from ideal. But, I think, all of the actions following were not up to my standards.
“And, as I said afterwards, when fighting a teammate, you have to be absolutely clear that that overtaking opportunity is a safe one to do so.
“And in that moment, I didn’t really comprehend that it was effectively a teammate of mine.
“But at the end of the day, it’s unacceptable to crash with a teammate. It was just a lot of things altogether, but no issues whatsoever [with Mercedes] and Toto and I speak weekly. We don’t even talk about it now, it’s behind us.”
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