Masi rejects Russell’s claim DRS should not have been enabled before crash

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1 race director Michael Masi dismissed George Russell’s claim the Drag Reduction System contributed to his crash with Valtteri Bottas.

DRS was disabled at the start of yesterday’s race due to the wet conditions. As the track dried and drivers switched to slick tyres, race control took the decision to enable it.

Russell and Bottas collided two minutes later. The Williams driver had his DRS open as he attempted to overtake his rival on the approach to Tamburello when his car snapped sideways, triggering a huge crash which led to the race being stopped.

Russell said he asked the stewards whether DRS should have been enabled when he and Bottas met them yesterday.

“We obviously have our own opinions, but equally, we both said it was a racing incident, and unfortunate,” he recounted.

“Probably in hindsight, given the conditions, given the circuit – that the straight is not straight – the DRS probably should not have been activated. I would not have [spun] if I was in the exact same position with DRS closed. So I highlighted that may be one for the future.”

However Masi denied DRS had been activated too early, pointing out that other drivers such as Lance Stroll made passes using it before the crash.

“It’s obviously something we were monitoring closely, looking at it,” said Masi. “To be fair there was a number of DRS overtakes that were completed successfully before and after.

“So no, I don’t think it was. I think looking at all of the footage, the track was all fine from our perspective and it was no issues on that end.”

The stewards ruled the collision between Russell and Bottas was a “racing incident” and cleared both drivers.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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25 comments on “Masi rejects Russell’s claim DRS should not have been enabled before crash”

  1. Russell probably would not have crashed if there was no DRS at that stage. It meant his closing speed on Bottas was very high.

    Russell clearly got spooked by Bottas. However, Bottas left enough room for Russell. The circuit jinks to the left here, so it appeared Bottas moved to the right, when he was simply staying close to the dry racing line. Even despite this, he still stayed more to the left than usual to allow enough space for Russell.

    Russell then put it on the grass all by himself. Clearly he had no trust in Bottas to give him space. But Bottas did give him space. Bottas even moved to the left at the end, indicating he did not want contact. Carlos Sainz said it was 100% Russel’s fault. The evidence indicates it’s more like 90% Russell’s fault. We would need more replays of the lines they took in previous laps and the telemetry to assist with this.

    It was Russell’s reactions afterwards which were questionable. Immediately blaming his rival, in part by anger, in part to deflect his own part fault in this incident. It’s natural he will get a lot of support on British sites as he is British and that biases reactions. Unfortunately, I fear he has lost some respect and goodwill towards him. However, his reaction and that of Bottas was certainly interesting to watch, and the genuineness was good to see.

    1. Funny seeing the cornered bird (Bottas) giving him the finger through the cage.

    2. I would say that it’s more of a case of Russell going on a PR offensive to ensure it is his point of view that is promoted in the press – much as others have used the press as a weapon to shape public opinion to back them.

      Added to that, the hostility that is shown towards Bottas from those who want to paint him as ‘wasting a seat’ means that many will happily side with Russell irrespective of nationality. If anything, I’d say it’s more those who are hostile to Bottas who are the more vocal critics, with Russell being a useful means of attacking him.

  2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    19th April 2021, 13:07

    Huge Russell and Williams fan, I thought Bottas had a fair share of blame in the way he moved, I thought the rain and contributing factors like the kink of T1 were just unfortunate, I even didn’t mind his emotional adrenaline fuelled reaction afterwards…………. but please stop now George. Dignity please.

  3. Everyone’s fault but Russell’s apparently. This guy isn’t helping his image is he?

  4. George is an incredible talent, but he needs to move on and stop the mental gymnastics, he panicked and swerved onto the grass, DRS can only be blamed in the sense that he would have been nowhere near Bottas without it.

    1. Bruno Verrari
      19th April 2021, 21:46

      He might be but he’s also inexperienced ”up there”, not scoring a single point in three years?!

  5. Oh shut up George.

    1. Or speak to apologise on your behaviour; slapping a possibly injured driver is unacceptable

      1. @jeff1s He merely slapped on the helmet, so no physical harm from that.

        1. you’re the devils advocate

        2. He still toughed him…rules are funny about that. They could say George could killed Bottas with that slap because he didn’t know Bottas was hurt or had a broken neck or anything dangerous.
          I know George was full of adreline from the crash and didn’t think very clearly at that moment.

      2. Of course this is out of context but that would have been at least a yellow card in football.

    2. Thoughts on the European Super League?

  6. OK I’m going to bring upsomething that is off topic to this conversation but I firmly believe is an issue that can’t be ignored.
    In recent times there have been several incidents caused by drivers being distracted by adjusting various settings on their steering wheel. I think it’s well and truly time for the FIA to look at how much the driver is required to do while also concentrating on keeping a car on the track at 200+ KPH.
    I understand that these are the best drivers or at the least among the best in the world. But all the skill and talent in the world cannot will not prevent an accident if a driver is not concentrating on their core job…driving. Adjusting multiple settings on the car whilst attempting to race other drivers all doing the same, I would think exceeds those boundaries.

  7. The fact it is available doesn’t mean you have to use it.
    The engines rev over 10000 RPM, but you don’t use that full range during every sector of the race track. You use even less when going through corners and way much less when its wet. When you’re on the grass and its wet, you use probably none of that RPM.
    Just because the DRS is available doesn’t mean you have to make use of it. All other drivers coped well with it.
    I just hope Russell isn’t losing it, because if he said that, then he is running out of rabbits to pull from his hat.

  8. This feels like a “they race me so hard!” moment for Russell. Except with much more aggro.

  9. I am philosophically opposed to DRS in race conditions. However, I think this accident was primarily a difference in the reading of conditions. Russell seemed to think “The only problem is the puddle, so if I’m not pushed onto it, I can do a pass,” whereas Bottas seemed to think “The conditions are so bad that only single-file is possible, therefore no point leaving space”. Both were partially correct, which is why it’s a racing accident – and neither would have changed if DRS had been disabled at that point.

  10. I do think that DRS did play a role in the crash as far as how massive the closing rate was which is the thing I think caught both drivers out.

    I don’t think I ever recall DRS producing that sort of difference in speed. I think it’s on average around a 10-15kph speed gain yet I think I heard Russell say yesterday that he was going 30kph faster than Bottas which is a crazy difference.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    19th April 2021, 15:44

    After yesterday’s race, I’m really interested in Masi’s opinion of the coffee machine.

    1. I am likely the the worst at body-language interpretation, but watching Masi in an interview before the race was incredible.
      Nervous, fidgeting and generally non committal in responses to yes/no questions. He may be a great guy and eminently qualified, but I doubt he will see the season out in his current position.
      Is the machine drip or infusion.? Rules are being formulated to regulate this and include it in Budget Cap.

  12. This is getting boring now, whining instead of just moving on.

  13. Lots of comments from various, mostly new to F1 drivers, on the loss in downforce when following another car.
    One of the main goals of the new (for 2022) regulation is to reduce this affect and reduce the outwash and the effect it has on passing cars.
    It would seem logical that Russel with wheels on a damp surface could have been affected by the outwash from Bottas, running on the dry line, which would cause him to rotate left into Bottas.

  14. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    19th April 2021, 19:32

    I couldn’t disagree more with Masi. I’m no fan of DRS at the best of times but it made for an especially ridiculous spectacle yesterday. I don’t recall the visual disparity between the straight line speed of LMP1 and GTE cars appearing to so great yet in F1 the cars are racing for position!

    I found my head shaking vigorously watching the slow-motion analysis of Russell’s “overreaction” to the small movement from Bottas and the assertion that there was a car’s width of space to make the move. That would have been nigh-on impossible for Russell to judge with such a high closing speed.

    Hats off to all the drivers who pulled off similar moves as Hamilton did passing Norris and others but when the skill of overtaking is reduced to the pure bravery of hoping a sitting duck will leave space for you to shoot past I don’t think you can call that racing.

  15. Hello I’m new to this site, what is everyone up to

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