(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Baku City Circuit; 2023

Russell ‘very surprised how angry Verstappen was’ after pair’s collision

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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George Russell says he does not understand why Max Verstappen was so infuriated by the pair’s opening-lap clash in the Baku sprint race.

The pair fought over third place at the start of Saturday’s sprint race, making contact in turn two which allowed Russell to move ahead of the Red Bull.

The clash left Verstappen with damage to the sidepod of his car but he still managed to overtake Russell after the Safety Car restart and claim third place. Verstappen then expressed his displeasure to Russell in parc ferme after the race and was heard calling the Mercedes driver a “dickhead” after the race.

“When he came over to me, I thought he was coming to say ‘good battle’ – a nice fight,” Russell explained after the sprint race. “I was very surprised how angry he was.

“From my side, his position was already lost. Ever since eight years old in go-karting, if you’re on the inside of the apex of a corner, it’s your corner. And if a driver’s trying to resist a position on the outside, they’re taking a huge risk.

“On one lap, on a street circuit, I was really quite shocked he was trying to hold the position. But equally I’m here to fight. I’m here to win. I’m not just going to wave him by because he’s Max Verstappen in a Red Bull, so not a lot more to say.”

Verstappen should have been more cautious in the early corners of the race, Russell believes. “He’s leading the championship,” he said. “It was a little bit surprising from my side – I’ve got less to lose – and I went for it, so part of racing.”

Russell eventually lost the place Verstappen after the Safety Car restart, something the Mercedes said was an example of him ‘picking his battles’, knowing the superior performance of Verstappen’s Red Bull.

“Of course you can always do things better but the fact is Max wasn’t my fight in that position,” Russell said.

“He was always going to overtake at some point. So you need to pick your battles and I picked my battle at the restart and he didn’t at the race start.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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    Will Wood
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    45 comments on “Russell ‘very surprised how angry Verstappen was’ after pair’s collision”

    1. I bet someone will mention the hole left on Max’s car, but Hamilton didn’t even touch him the other race and he was angry as well.

      He’s doing worse than the guys he criticized when he was the one barging on their stuff.

      1. Verstappen can give it our, but can’t take it. Everything he complains about other drivers, he’s done now then once and argued that it’s fair.

        1. @drmouse

          Concur, after the last several years of watching Verstappen on the track and then hearing his comments after incidents; what you wrote is pretty accurate.

      2. That’s exactly what I thought yesterday, talk about Pot & Kettle covered in Soot – what was it he always said ….. “you have the Option to Brake – and besides, it was a racing incident !
        Add in the amount of wind up that CH was injecting into his ears, and you have a childish driver who believes he didn’t win again because some enemy pleb touched his precious car, because he KNOWS all the RB Fans who say he is the “greatest driver who ever lived” is actually true.

        Teams go up and teams go down – no doubt he’ll retire claiming that he was thinking of leaving before RB does eventually lose the edge, as all champ teams do – Williams; McLaren; Ferrari; Lotus, and countless others that seemed to be unbeatable at some time or other – Get real Max, it’s racing, and it happens frequently.

    2. Verstappen tasting Verstappen medicine and doesn’t like it. So keep going George: just apologize nicely and do the very same thing next time. If he has to try sorting it out off-track, he’s rattled.

    3. If you seriously don’t understand why he’s mad, you have no business being in F1. Pushing someone into the wall, damaging his car when your leaking bathtub can barely stay in front of a customer team and robbing him of a better position and then your best defence is being ‘What, he got P3 right?’, you have no business being on the grid.

      1. @duuxdeluxe Have you really no appreciation of how Verstappen spent years doing the same? Now Red Bull are dominant, other cars will risk more to win position – just as he did countless times. Complaining now is just hilarious, a classic case of a (track) bully being out-bullied and disliking it. Literally nobody save his fans will care. Verstappen is a truly great driver, but he fully deserves this treatment.

        1. You can also be a verstappen fan and say that he seems to not like having this high-risk racing turned around on him now that he’s the one who has more to lose.

      2. He risked himself getting pushed into the wall. You know when you’re on the outside the track will end at some point. Russell did well to give Max just enough room. Unfortunately contact was inevitable.

        1. You know when you’re on the outside the track will end at some point.

          No, the FIA Code clearly and explicitly forbids any form of crowding another car off.

          Russell should have slowed down, enabling himself to make a tighter turn, thereby avoiding contact.

          1. Max was clearly ahead in the corner, so it was his corner. George should have braked earlier..

          2. He didn’t force him off track though did he otherwise he’d have got a penalty or at least investigated. Verstappen should have given up the corner exit on entry.

          3. “No, the FIA Code clearly and explicitly forbids any form of crowding another car off.” then in this case max came off better and FIA should have punished him, because he squeezed russel into inner corner, and crash happened right after, when max had 3 cars width to his right and when russel barely had 1! makes sense to leave it as racing incident, if not it should be a penalty for max!
            here entry to corner
            here exit of corner

            max is the luckiest driver. he is still getting away with incidents he starts and tries to come out on top as the victim.

            1. Wow, didn’t realise he had closed the door that far, the images speak very clearly.

      3. I know this is easy to forget in F1 with all the DRS overtakes, but sometimes cars actually both want a position and neither one yields and you get contact.

        That is racing and there are things called racing incidents. Max knows it, he was on the inside countless times during his career, including pushing people outwards and his anger is truly the sign of an entitled driver surrounded by yes-men

        I think Alonso did the same move as Russel on Albon, only Albon was smart enough to get out of the way and nothing happened.

        1. Yellow Barron
          29th April 2023, 19:00

          What lap was that? Alonso on albon?

      4. LOL!!

        Are all the other drivers, just supposed to shrug their shoulders and politely let him through every time?

        It’s even more hilarious, when you consider that, more than any other driver, Max would do exactly the same if the situation is reversed.

        He reminds me of the people who complain about kids kicking the ball against their house wall – having done exactly the same himself!!

    4. @duuxdeluxe Robbing him of a better position? Isn’t that the whole point of racing? He didnt rob him anything, he overtook him

    5. If Russell is Mercedes now and future #1 he is going to have to stop the “oh sugar” mindset and stand up for himself. I think Max just viewed this as a chance to get in his head. I can also see Verstappens view:. The only good outcome for him in the sprint is to not get damage and someone hit him. But it’s not Russells fault he’s running away with the title and the sprints are just a waste of his time.

      1. @dmw I think this traces back to Australia and both Mercedes barging past Verstappen. He knows it will continue and can’t stop it on track as they have far less to lose. So – as Ocon experienced – the Verstappen-family-brand solution is personal confrontation and verbal violence with a threat of physical intimidation. But Russell is too smart and too confident to be put off.

        1. He’d also flatten Max in a fist fight.

          1. @slowmo Indeed. Watching the replay Max has the expression of someone who realized he picked the wrong fight with George looking down at him. Maybe explains the way he muttered the insult when George was already out of earshot.

    6. Regardless of how Max feels about it that was the only battle worth watching in this sprint rubbish.

      1. Agree with that!!

      2. Not the only one worth watching imo, but the best one, often happens between these 2 drivers.

    7. Rick (@wickedwicktheweird)
      29th April 2023, 18:18

      Max needs to learn to take it on the chin, whether he has a point or not. What happened today (and in Melbourne) is part of racing.

    8. What’s Dutch for hypocrite?

      1. Verstappen.

        1. Boom Boom :)

    9. There’s an acronym to describe what Verstapped radiated here : SDE.

    10. “Ever since eight years old in go-karting, if you’re on the inside of the apex of a corner, it’s your corner.”

      Oh Georgie boy, do you really still don´t understand the rules of racing?
      You can only claim the corner if your ahead or at least at the same level as the other car, otherwise you just have to back out…

      1. cry a little more

        1. What’s the point of this comment? If you think he’s wrong, tell him why, what has crying to do with anything?

        2. what does crying have*

      2. Maybe someone should have told Verstappen, that’s pretty much his signature move. If he doesn’t like others pulling it on him, he shouldn’t have made a habit of doing it himself.

    11. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      29th April 2023, 19:59

      Normal racing incident. Also normal in such instances for the driver who got passed to feel wronged, nothing new under the sun. Unfortunate that RB got damadged, but again, these things happen in a racing incident.
      If you don’t go for the gap, you’re no longer a racing driver.
      VER would’ve (quite rightly) done the same if their positions were reversed.

      1. VER would’ve (quite rightly) done the same if their positions were reversed.

        Well exactly. The hypocrisy and temper tantrum have to be laughed off. But I’d be a bit disappointed if Verstappen didn’t do the same in the future if the roles were reversed. The point is that neither driver did anything worthy of a penalty. Obviously if you race aggressively there’s a reasonable chance, on both sides, that you’ll pick up damage. Verstappen passed Russell easily enough – and with skill – later. But the damage was probably enough to mean he couldn’t compete with Leclerc and Perez. So wisdom would suggest letting Russell take the corner would have been smarter (perhaps what Horner was hinting at with his ‘they’ve nothing to lose’ comment on the radio).

        1. In fairness Horner was very balanced in his assessment afterwards, he had more of an issue with turn 3 rather than the contact in turn 2. I can see why but I think Verstappen really did just push his luck on turn 3 and should have backed off.

          1. Verstappen wasn’t unreasonable either in the interview right after the confrontation with Russell (something along the line of “we all have cold tires, then these things happen, but it is what it is”).
            We’re all tripping over the bad word(s?) he used, but all in all, his assessment wasn’t unfair or even that hot headed. A bit hypocritical, yes, as what @david-br said:

            But I’d be a bit disappointed if Verstappen didn’t do the same in the future if the roles were reversed

            Which is true, though everyone would be crying that ‘Verstappen can’t do wheel to wheel racing’ if the roles had been reversed. In this case the only thing he could do is chicken out of a fight and that’s, I suppose, not the Verstappen way.

    12. Being this petty is a bad look for someone so far ahead in the championship. The radio messages between Max and his engineer were just pathetic. It was annoying enough when Red Bull were the underdog, but now that they have a dominant car it’s insufferable.

      1. Yes, I think it means nothing to say you know how you can overtake when you have the fastest car, a car that, like perez showed, is able to pick off leclerc fairly easily, a driver who when given the chance gets back past you next drs zone, if you have this much straight line advantage overtaking is a given, not special.

    13. We’ll see how Max races if one of the other teams can manage to get a competitive car on the track. Maybe we’ll see it tomorrow on the first lap.

      1. Definitely very aggressively, just look back at 2021, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do what russell did.

    14. Bet he wasn’t surprised at all, this is just scripted Mercedes PR talk not owning up to anything. I am sure even George knows you have to be on the inside but also ahead into the corner to claim its yours. And when in doubt, male sure you both get through it. Silly Rookie thing. He knows it.

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