George Russell, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Russell apologises to Bottas: “I should have handled the whole situation better”

2021 F1 season

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George Russell has publicly apologised to Valtteri Bottas and his team for the crash involving the pair at Imola yesterday, and his reaction to it.

The Williams driver and Mercedes junior team member furiously criticised Bottas after the pair made contact at high speed during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, leading to a major crash which put both drivers out of the race.

Russell, who has been tipped as a potential replacement for Bottas at Mercedes next year, was seen confronting his rival and tapping Bottas’ crash helmet after the collision.

He later said he had asked Bottas “if he was trying to kill us both”. Russell also accused Bottas of breaking a gentlemen’s agreement by moving towards his car as he drew alongside, and suggested the Mercedes driver wouldn’t have done the same against another rival.

On Monday he issued an apology for his actions on social media. “Yesterday wasn’t my proudest day,” he said.

“I knew it would be one of our best opportunities to score points this season and, when those points matter as much as they do to us right now, sometimes you take risks. It didn’t pay off and I have to take responsibility for that.

“Having had time to reflect on what happened afterwards, I know I should have handled the whole situation better. Emotions can run high in the heat of the moment and yesterday mine got the better of me.

“I apologise to Valtteri, to my team and to anyone who felt let down by my actions. That’s not who I am and I expect more from myself, as I know others expect more from me.

“I’ve learned some tough lessons this weekend and will come out of this a better driver and a better person for the experience. Now it’s full focus on Portugal and a chance to show what I’m really about. Thanks for all the messages, both positive and negative. They will all help me to grow.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said both drivers bore some responsibility for the collision, but criticised Russell for making an “aggressive” move on a Mercedes car. However Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn sided with Russell, saying Bottas had left him “nowhere to go” prior to the contact between the pair.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Russell apologises to Bottas: “I should have handled the whole situation better””

  1. Looks like Toto already phoned him…

  2. Good, seems like Russell should be asking himself the same rhetorical question he asked of Bottas after the crash.

    1. Not sure here. Can see people differ in their opinion over who is a t fault. The experts (not the armchair ones) also differ in opinion. If it was not Bottas, this probably wouldnt have happened. He does not always seem well aware of the cars around him, one of the reasons for the massive gap between him and Hamilton once the Mercedesses find themselves in traffic (which hardly ever happens except for some back markers). I understand it all works well for Toto, bit would love to see some more all-round driver in that second seat as it seems condemned now to ‘just bring in some points’

      1. I haven’t seen any expert who isn’t a Brit like Russell who doesn’t think it was entirely Russell’s fault.

        1. Toto: ‘But George should have never launched into this manoeuvre, considering that the track was drying up, it meant taking risks and the other car is a Mercedes in front of him. And in any driver’s development, for a young driver, you must never lose this global perspective.”

          There is so much wrong with this statement, I dont know where to begin. Let me try: first of all any driver should launch into an overtaking manoeuvre, especially on the straight with DRS, where 99% of the overtakes took place. Drying up track has nothing to do with it, we are here to race. The other car is a Mercedes?!! Thats probably the worst part of his remark. No, it is a Williams that just happens to be powered by a Mercedes engine. If the strategy is to win by delivering all your competitors your engine so they’d be lenient towards you than maybe you should just buy the championship. What a bad sportmanship! And especially as a young driver you should totally not want to play this old economy old school Mercedes game. They are incredibly out of touch as a brans when you start making these kinds of remarks. I truly believe Toto is one of, if not, the best team bosses but he really went overboard this weekend. Like Hamilton, we’ve not seen Toto under pressure and it seems there are cracks coming

  3. Toto stepped in. Apologies or Renault Clio.

    1. yeah lol, although he might have done on his own too

    2. Just imagine the outrage if Helmut Marko had made the renault clio comment about one of his drivers

  4. Good George that was not a good look for you. Maldonado did a lot of bad things but I never saw him insult someone repeatedly and slap them on the helmet after a high speed crash.

    1. He literally used his car as a weapon.

      1. sodidschumacher
        19th April 2021, 19:26

        so did schumacher

        1. Oh, that one…

        2. Jerez 1997 comes to mind.

  5. Aaaaand…….. that culminates the smart “Race FIXING” by Mercedes. Flavio Briatore must be envious of Wolff , and nelsinho piquet may write a consolation letter to Bottas. Russell, in the meantime, just got richer.

    1. I don’t really get this @nimba. I mean, Haas would not fight a Ferrari and Alpha Tauri won’t fight a Red Bull. Is it really that much of a surprise to anyone? Or are you somehow suggesting the crash was deliberate, in which case you need to get your head checked out.

      1. Not agreeing with the conspiracy theory, but disagree that an AT won’t fight a RB.
        Nurburgring last year, Alex Albon “why are they fighting me so hard?”

        1. He knows the answer, he was racing 2 ex-RBR racers.

      2. Hamilton stopped in gravel then remaining Mercedes drivers created safety car so he have enough time to figure out that going forward wont get him through that wall and need to find reverse gear. Its to funny to be not true.

    2. You think that crash was an inside job?

      1. That’s exactly what he’s saying and he’s not the only one, my father was suggesting this too and I can only say wolff hasn’t been particularly fair before.

        1. Yup. I bet he thinks Hamilton’s engine failure in Malaysia 2016 was an inside job too.

        2. ady (@sixwheeler)
          20th April 2021, 5:36

          Perhaps out of the millions of people watching, there will be always a few who come out with nonsensical theories

          1. I say these just to mock the incidents, like the Malaysia 2016 Hamilton engine failure.

    3. @nimba I guess the earth is flat, vaccines causes autism AND is for microchipping you, we never went to the moon and 911 was an inside job as well?

      1. What a ludicrous non-sequitur argument. I don’t agree with @nimba either but, my lands, how can you connect these other issues? Also just lumping all that together to smear someone as a conspiracy theorist is part of a dangerous and disgusting groupthink. Makes you sound ignorant because while the earth isn’t flat and the moon landing has happened there are indeed major nuances in the field of emerging medicine and then the 911 issue- if you believe the official US/UK narrative, you must be joking me. The government is basically constantly lying about various issues.

      2. @losd To all those who want to brush this off as a “conspiracy theory / Trumpism / right-left debacle / cnn-fox-russia-whatever / and similarly popular and eye-catching labels” , I have only one thing to say :
        The quote “History repeats itself ” hasn’t been out there and relevantly applicable for centuries just because it is catchy, but because it does enable one to analyze events in the light of retrospective knowledge and behavior patterns.

        In a multi-billion dollar ~Cash is King~ sport , where championship in exploits and glory+money has been decided on the thinnest of margins, and where manipulative tactics have exceeded common sensibility and predictive cognition ( reference to crashgate, spygate etc. ) , Where high powered money and influence are like petty change , and where all is fair in war, it would be foolish not to investigate or even imagine such an opinion and to disregard it simply as being fanciful.

        Remember that nothing that happens in this world is new, it is just a new age, new era, and new perspective of looking at events.

        1. I would come clean and say it was a mockery if I was you.

    4. I know you can’t reason with the conspiracy theorists. But if you think, would I cause a crash for…reasons at highway speeds? Then you think ok would I cause it at 3x that speed? And if you think any person who would do that is sane you have a problem. But people are desperate to have “inside knowledge” about things and will believe anything. We just went through our “stolen election” mass hysteria in the US to underline that.

      1. Yeah, one look at the replay should settle any thoughts of that being intentional. That was not tagging the wall at a quiet spot or a gentle spin.

    5. Please keep delusional conspiracy theories to alt-right propoganda political sites like Fox news and Breitbart.

      1. I wouldn’t mention these, by the way.

      2. NeverElectric
        20th April 2021, 9:44

        Or on leftie conspiracy news sites like CNN and Politico :-)

        1. Thoughts on the European Super League?

  6. I was genuinely disappointed in Russell yesterday, as I hold him in very high regard. He didn’t handle the incident well at all, but this is the best way to deal with the fallout. Hopefully he’ll learn from it – as he says he will do – and the experience has a positive impact on his driving going forward.

    1. Actually not the first time Russell bin it when in a point scoring position. It might not be entirely his fault but still an error in judgement and I wonder how much this pressure to score points is working against him.
      He has already been in the gravel, crash behind safety car when having realistic chance at points. It’s always going to be tricky to overtake with slick on a drying track as driver will defend the dry line forcing the overtaker over the wet losing traction.

      Russell has proved he can be fast on Saturday and fight on Sunday, next order is to keep it together and finally get this illusive point. I’m sure it will come this year as Williams looks well improved and once the first point is on the board, he should get some relief.

  7. Well done George. Takes a man to admit his mistakes. Nothing wrong with going for the space, but what happened afterwards is not you. All your supporters know how badly you wanted a points finish. Proud of you for coming out today and putting thing right. Onwards and upwards.

    1. Proud of you for coming out today

      Missed that one :)

      1. I knew it! :) :)

  8. Someone has had a telling off by Toto, it seems…

  9. Good for George for stepping up and apologizing. While there is still debate on who was primarily responsible for the crash, if anyone, his actions after the crash were very immature and inappropriate in any scenario much less one with an impact as great as the one Bottas had.

    In the larger picture this seems like a clear indicator that George is preparing to be a Merc driver next season and trying to engender some good will from what he thinks will be his future team. And I think that would be best for everyone. Clearly George is frustrated being in a Williams and has shown he has the talent to be in a top team. Bottas had no business being that far back with the equipment Merc has provided him. It was a poor showing all weekend from someone who needs to be showing every single race that he deserves a seat in the most dominant team in F1 history.

    1. @g-funk Well said. I’m glad he has apologized for his actions afterwards too, while only accepting some blame but not full blame for the actual collision. I certainly understand though his human heat-of-the-moment reaction which is always a hard thing to control and that you can’t predict until you’re in it. He is not the first one nor will be the last to be caught up in the heat of the moment, only to reflect afterwards. I’m sure the likes of TW et al get that.

    2. TBF Bottas has deserved a seat in the Mercedes these last few years because he has done what he was paid to do; unlike Mercedes nearest rivals with their second driver. Excepting Perez this Sunday.
      This year he has not so far done the job so rightly he is probably on his way.

      1. @ ian I agree. He’s been a very good number 2 the last few years, allowing Merc to attack Red Bull or Ferrari with alternate strategies. But the end of last year and this last race I think show he doesn’t have what it takes to lead the team when Lewis retires. He also seems to be letting people get in his head, which is something Lewis used to have happen to him many years ago too, but Lewis grew stronger from it. I don’t see Bottas getting stronger. I just see him trying all sorts of new solutions and ending up in the same place, all while getting very frustrated.

  10. Good apology George.

  11. Well done and mature 👍
    So Mercedes hopefully Mercedes it is for him in 2022 and not Renault Clio.

  12. “I apologise to Valtteri, to my team and to anyone who felt let down by my actions” now that is a cop out WOW!
    So objectively he didn’t do anything wrong THEY felt that way.

    1. That’s an odd way of reading it.

      1. @LosD Sure is, but the wording allows it on one hand and the other it feels PR driven.

    2. Wow, an unreserved whole hearted apology is something to complain about?

      Its an apology, what do you want him to say? He literally apologises. He doesn’t even need to apologise to anyone other than Bottas. In fact I think that’s usually the better way to handle things. Just to apologise personally to those who matter and tell us he has and the matter is over.

      He doesn’t owe any of us or anyone else anything.

    3. I think he meant his fans. Maybe his mother too. And definitely Toto.

  13. George needs to work on the ‘personality’ side of things, maybe hire a PR guru for a while.
    I think he let all the talk about a possible switch to Mercedes go to his head a bit and give him a tiny entitlement complex. I thought the way he wrenched off his gloves as he walked from the crash was a bit theatrical, reminded me of Grosjean…. Top notch drivers don’t do that.

  14. @LosD Or maybe I think he is overhyped. They say that F1 has a bright future and I agree, Verstappen is the complete package and a title contender, Leclerc is a proven race winner and in qualifying second to none, Norris is also on an upward trajectory and in these first 2 races shows that he can genuinely challenge the aforementioned 2. Sainz, Gasly also fast, solid racers even Stroll has come good at last!
    What has Russel achieved besides outqualifying Sirotkin and Latifi? My point being that by being a Mercedes protege and overhyped by british media falsely give him a sense of entitlement which is completed unwarranted by his track record. The slap on the helmet was proof of that!

    1. What? Russel proved he is a top driver in that one mercedes race he had, something gasly and albon, good midfield drivers, proved they don’t have! Russel drove at hamilton level the first race he got in his car.

      1. @esploratore I literally love it when people give the interpretation that fits to their narrative. Just saying, simply saying, did it ever occur to you that perhaps Mercedes is such good of a car that anybody can adopt to it instantly? Perhaps GR is the greatest talent that F1 has ever seen, I won’t argue with this. But really, what on Earth is wrong with you people? Such easily drawn conclusions, when no one, at least sane people, can’t be sure on what’s the deal, especially after only 1 race. Oh my god, we are in 2021 and everywhere on internet feels like we are on Middle Ages.

      2. Gasly has won an F1 race, in a midfield car!

  15. Better late than never I suppose, but the whole thing does not reflect well on him. Also for the second year running he threw away a very promising weekend at Imola (I feel yesterday even more so than last year, when keeping the faster, fresher-tyred cars behind him would have been a tall order). Let’s hope he can bounce back from this.

  16. Fair enough.
    Enough Russell headlines for now. You’d almost forget how entertaining last race was. The battle surely appears to be on. To me, the Mercedes car is clearly still faster than the Red Bull Racing on account of Bahrain and the pace in the first stint this race. But the differences are small enough that the drivers can overcome it. I do hope reliability or the bad idea also known as “qualifying race” won’t decide the championship.

  17. Instructions from Wolff.

  18. Expected it to go this way, but secretly I bet he is still spewing. There’s no way he wouldn’t do the exact move again given the opportunity.

    He deserves to be in that seat, not Bottas, and everyone knows it.

  19. Don’t forget that in the Mercedes 0-0 Williams match, Bottas fouls Russell and a big fist fight ensues between both of them. Both Bottas and Russell get sent off. Later, Russell and Bottas reconcile at a press conference.

  20. Mark in Florida
    20th April 2021, 3:14

    I guess Toto runs Williams now too! Wow George way to roll over like a scared dog. Your only a man if you stick up for yourself and mean it. If you give in you’ll be bullied your whole. Tell Toto to shut up and run his own team not Williams.

    1. Russell made a mistake, acknowledged it, and apologized for it. That is what a real man does, Mark in Florida. Doubling down on a mistake is what a petulant child does. Or what an orange American ex-president Loser does. You know what I’m saying, Mark in Florida?

      1. Mark in Florida
        20th April 2021, 21:39

        Sure I know what you’re saying, perhaps with all of your prescience, your reading into it what you want. If it makes sense to you go with it please don’t let facts sway you at all. It not Totos job to tell other drivers what to do. If he wants Russell as a compliant #2 why bother? He already has Bottas covering that. Russell is a racer,so to apologize for trying to pass Bottas is quite silly. So take a chill pill anti American.

        1. Prescience implies knowledge before the fact. What do you mean by this?
          I am saying that Russell was right to apologize for a failed high speed pass that took out his competitor, when he thought about it After the fact. Bottas left him room on the outside. Wolff was correct to criticize the sloppy move.

        2. Mark In Florida: I am certainly not anti-American, in fact I loved the trips I have taken to New York, Texas, and especially the Florida Keys. Lovely places, lovely people. One thing that America has got wrong lately though is it’s inability to understand it’s own mistakes, and act accordingly. I remember when you had a president who sold his peanut farm when he was elected so that he would avoid any perceived conflict of interest; your last president was an embodiment of a spoiled brat, and his behavior seems to have enabled others to think that acting thusly is acceptable.
          Also Mark in Florida, you should know that we Canadians are given a free prescription of chill pills for life baby.

  21. It was a racing incident, at most I’d say 55% Russel’s fault and 45% Bottas. George’s immediate reaction after the crash was a bit over the top, and it’s good he’s seen the error of his ways and apologized — these things happen, especially when racing at high speed in a damp and narrow track.

    However if I were to read into it more, George’s outburst and strong words were probably a glimpse of the frustration and desperation he’s feeling; going on 3-years now driving at the back of the grid in an uncompetitive and aimless Williams (and even faced the possibility of getting dropped last year in favor of a pay driver). It kind of reminds me of Carlos Sainz, Jr. in 2017; when he was overdriving at times and saying all sorts of things to put his name out to other teams, and/or provoke Red Bull into promoting him or releasing him from Toro Rosso (having been there for 3-years by then).

    1. Spot on.

    2. This.

      George is an exceptional driver rotting at Williams, meanwhile Norris, similar driver at McLaren gets podiums.

      He is furstrated, now MSC and Mazepin need to make a move or be stuck at Haas.

      Nobody will replace Seinz with a rookie from Haas at Ferrari…

      George has proven he has the goods and still was not promoted to Mercedes.

      1. You know George signed a three year deal at Williams right? He was always going to be in the Williams this year and Wolff has always said this too. I don’t understand why everyone thinks he ‘deserves’ the Mercedes seat right now, he should have signed a two year deal instead if that was the case!

    3. Well said @rafael-o felt that way to me too.

  22. NeverElectric
    20th April 2021, 9:49

    Toto used to be Valteri’s manager, right? So, there’s obviously some personal connections there. I think, if Mercedes win the Constructors’ title, Bottas will keep his seat and Golden-Balls George will either continue rotting at Williams, or will get frustrated and leave F1 – or be pushed out, seeing as Toto clearly doesn’t rate the kid’s PR skills too highly.
    George has been praised a lot for his single outing in the Merc, with many on this forum even suggesting that he should replace Lewis in the Merc next year. But I remember him crashing under the safety car while in the points at this same Grand Prix last year, and last weekend he made what can only be termed a childish error given he had all the time in the world to catch and pass Bottas later.
    He’s not exactly covering himself in glory, and is probably now well on the way to earning a reputation as a fast but erratic driver who can’t handle the pressure of being in or near a points-scoring position.

  23. I’m amazed by some of these comments aimed at Russell, someone above said he needs a PR guru and that he was theatrical. The boy had just suffered a 200mph crash, he was probably shaking with fear and anger, how many of you have been cut up on a motorway/freeway or had near misses and not felt shakey or angry and be caught up in that one moment of time? He lost his cool (not in a corberi, ticktum kind of way) and apologised. He doesnt need a PR guru, he is already well mannered, represents his teams well , always talks well generally about other drivers and even appologised to every individual membet of his team for the safety car crash last year

    1. He lost his cool (not in a corberi, ticktum kind of way)

      To me personally the move itself and his reaction and comments after crash was exactly Ticktum-like. But at least George issued this statement and apologised.

  24. Look, for sure it was a high emotion, high speed adrenaline crash. And my impression of Russell is that he’s an ambitious, maybe entitled, hot head, I’ve felt that since he joined the sport. BUT – what F1 driver isn’t? And if he isn’t, why are they driving? I loved the F1 podcast with James Allison, because it really painted a picture of behind the scenes Lewis Hamilton, and all F1 drivers. Mainly how fragile their egos are, but also how important that is to their performance. Which, clearly for Russell, there is more to come!

  25. First, he gave the impression that he might not be on speaking term with Lewis anymore because you know, who is Lewis, he is just like any other drivers in the paddock. Then he implied that if it were another driver, not a possible Bottas replacement, Bottas might not crash into him. These “leaks” revealed how loaded his mind has been with his own possible promotion and brighter future. Great to see so many fair-minded fans though. And it looks like he’ll be forgiven after all. As for Verstappen – it’s the car! 90% of the drivers in the grid would win with his car.

    1. Yep, he’ll be forgiven and redeemed once and for all! But you? Maybe you will when I’m leaving for good…

  26. I think Merc will rethink Russell’s future because of his temperament.
    He can join Red Bull and see if they are as tolerant.

  27. Next outburst of this nature by Russell deserves punishment. He got off easy.

    1. Condemnation instead!

  28. Russellado from now on. Has Russellado crashed today? Sounds good.

    1. Rott, is that you?

    2. Maldonado is an undisputed meme legend. 🤣🤣🤣 You better check out the hilarious Maldonator video, because it’s brilliant.

    3. You act like you want to kill George Russell, huh?

    4. RUsSelL fROm now on. hAS RUssEll CRasHed TodAy? soUndS GOOD.

      Sounds trash, you stupid piece of trash.

    5. You’re a loser.

    6. Your comment still isn’t killed off?

    7. Enemy Alex from now on. Has Enemy Alex commented today? Sounds good.

  29. This didn’t age well

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