Valtteri Bottas and George Russell both held a degree of blame for the “nasty” accident that saw both cars crash violently out of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, says Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff.
The pair were battling over ninth place soon after DRS was activated for the first time in the race on lap 31. As Russell pulled to the outside of the Mercedes on the approach to Tamburello, he lost control after just brushing the damp grass with his right-hand tyres, pitching him into a spin and spearing into Bottas alongside. The two drivers were then simply passengers as they careened into the barriers, both suffering heavy impacts and littering the circuit with debris.
Russell was quick to climb out of the wrecked Williams and made his way over to Bottas. A visibly irate Russell confronted Bottas and asked the Mercedes driver if he had been trying to kill them both, while Bottas was seen making an offensive gesture in reply.
The race was red flagged to allow for the track to be cleared and barriers repaired. Wolff says that he will make it clear to both drivers that they had a role to play in the incident that he says was “absolutely not necessary”.
“It takes two to tango,” says Wolff. “It was a nasty accident.
“I can understand it from both drivers’ perspectives, but if you look at it from a global perspective, from where we sit at Mercedes, it’s something that shouldn’t be happening. I think both of them think that they are not to blame and I will need to make the point that this is not clear-cut for me.”
Wolff says he understands why Russell attempted the pass, but suggested that the 22-year-old should have been more careful.
“It was quite a move on the DRS, but I guess when a driver doesn’t go for a gap, he isn’t a racing driver,” Wolff says.
“On the other side, maybe it was too aggressive considering that it was a Mercedes and the track was drying up.”
Russell accused Bottas of breaking the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to not make sudden movements when defending positions, while Bottas insisted he left Russell the required racing room at all times prior to the collision.
Wolff jokingly acknowledged he had previously been “teasing” Russell “and said if he does a good job he can be in a Mercedes, if not we’re doing Renault Clio Cup.
“Today we are more close to Renault Clio Cup.”
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