George Russell, Williams, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Williams have “absolutely no concern or criticism” over Russell’s role in Bottas crash

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Williams have given their total support to George Russell over his role in the crash which ended his race at Imola.

Russell lost control of his car while trying to pass Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for ninth place. The resulting crash put both drivers out of the race and saw Williams leave the second round of the season with two badly damaged cars, Nicholas Latifi having retired in a collision earlier in the race.

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff criticised Russell, the team’s junior driver, for the risk he took in passing one of their cars. However Williams team principal Simon Roberts had no complaint over his driver’s move.

“He was in a good position, his track position was on merit,” said Roberts. “I watched the video of him coming out of turn 18, in my mind there is absolutely no question that looked like an overtake was on.

“So we have absolutely no concern or criticism of what George did. We think that was the right thing to do. Clearly it didn’t work out and there’s reasons for that. And it’s easy in hindsight to roll back and go into minutiae. But for me it goes back to the exit of turn 18. It was a good exit, he got traction, he was in the slipstream and he had DRS, why wouldn’t you go for it?”

Roberts admitted it was “really easy in hindsight” to criticise Russell for his error. “The track was wet on the right-hand side,” he acknowledged. But he does not believe Russell took an unreasonable risk.

“I don’t think it was particularly aggressive, to be honest,” said Roberts.

“It depends, I don’t know what people see. I was watching the onboard at the time, I’ve got both onboards on – well, one onboard on by that stage in the race. And that wasn’t in my book an aggressive, pushy move.

“But it didn’t end well and I can’t get away from that and neither can George.”

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Author information

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...
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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17 comments on “Williams have “absolutely no concern or criticism” over Russell’s role in Bottas crash”

  1. It sounds as if Williams is now led by real racers even if Mercedes are less so.

  2. But for me it goes back to the exit of turn 18. It was a good exit, he got traction, he was in the slipstream and he had DRS, why wouldn’t you go for it?”

    Not really wanting to go over this ground again, but I agree with Simon.

  3. Yeah confirms for me what I’ve said all along. What else was GR to do with that head of steam he had on VB but a pass attempt? I think in the aftermath TW had to side with VB moreso in order to keep his psyche intact for the rest of the season, but I think in his mind he probably agrees with Simon. Just couldn’t say it publicly and demoralize VB.

  4. As others have said hindsight is a wonderful tool to pass judgement, these are supposed to be racing drivers not formation display drivers GR had the position and momentum to pass what at that time was a slower car yes it was wet off line and VB moved right following the racing line but neither did anything untoward just one of those rare racing incidents in the current world of F1 playing follow the leader

    Reply moderated
  5. Wolff is reported elsewhere to have avoided answering a direct question on his demand that all ‘Mercedes’ drivers avoid any risk with Mercedes cars. In the managers press conference he, apparently, then carried on digging himself in a hole when challenged on giving instructions to drivers in other teams:

    “Drivers have to go for a gap. Sometimes it’s evaluating whether it’s taking a risk or not. I guess that a young driver will always go for the possibility and nothing else is expected.

    “The question is, is there enough reaction time to evaluate who is the other car? I think not”.

    So the message is still “don’t overtake Mercedes if you are in Mercedes stable of drivers”?

  6. It would be humorous if the new regulations somehow allow Williams to be ahead of Merc…

  7. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    1st May 2021, 10:31

    It sums up the whole farce that we all forgot what Williams actually thought of all this, the team that lost the most from the incident. And rightly so they stand by their driver. When did everyone have to become so squeaky clean all the time, human beings with real emotions and feeling. We make mistakes, we learn, we never please everyone. Understandable that emotions were high, most people can’t even control their emotions from behind a keyboard, let alone after a 200mph accident.

  8. Wolff and Mercedes have come out of this looking really poor. They’ve put unnecessary pressure on Russell who has done nothing wrong. This was a racing incident between two drivers in separate teams, nothing more. One was over performing and the other was underperforming. If this is the sort of politics we will have with driver loans then we should outlaw them.

  9. Onboard footage from Rivazza through the crash wasn’t shown on the world feed, unfortunately.

  10. It won’t be the first time a team’s view is tainted by their team colours.

  11. Good on Williams – even if it’s a little late. I’m baffled how a DRS pass down a straight has been turned into some crazy divebomb in some people’s minds. He went for a move, the slight kink meant Bottas moved across the track and Russell tried to avoid him. Unfortunately it resulted in a crash but to suggest the move Russell tried was “aggressive” is insane.

  12. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    1st May 2021, 11:44

    Toto should be talking about how an almighty Mercedes was fighting with a Williams in the first place.

  13. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    1st May 2021, 12:29

    I wouldn’t have any concern on Russell’s capability after that crash but I would doubt his integrity and loyalty, as it’s clearly not to Williams, arguably not even to Mercedes – but to Wolff.

  14. Never mind the crash, but the reaction after the crash.

    Reply moderated
    1. Russell betrayed me.

  15. And I have no regrets being Russell’s traitor. NO. REGRETS.

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