Max Verstappen, Red Bull and George Russell, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Should the stewards have taken action over Russell-Verstappen collision?

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen and George Russell’s collision on the first lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race left the Red Bull driver fuming – and the Mercedes driver baffled by his anger.

Was either driver in the wrong? Did the stewards need to issue a penalty? Have your say below.


The collision occured shortly after the start of the race. Verstappen lined up third, one place ahead of Russell. The Mercedes driver got off the line fractionally quicker than his rival and made a move down the inside of the first corner.

The pair ran side-by-side through that corner. At the next turn Russell, still on the inside line, made slight contact with Verstappen. The Mercedes driver’s front-right wheel made contact with the left-hand sidepod on the Red Bull, damaging the floor and leaving a hole in the bodywork.

From there they ran alongside each other on the long run towards turn three, where Russell finally claimed the place ahead of his rival. Later in the race, following a Safety Car restart, Verstappen reclaimed the position.

What they said

In the cars

“He tagged me,” Verstappen complained after the pair made contact. “I can also pass like that if I keep turning into the side.”

He was unimpressed when told he had floor damage after the collision. “Did he really drive into the side of me?” he asked. “I don’t understand how you can keep the position when he’s damaging my car. It’s bloody ridiculous.”

Russell said nothing about the contact.

After the crash

We definitely got through the corner without him hitting the inside barrier. So I think I did leave enough space, but I think apparently it’s hard to not hit a Red Bull car, I guess, for them.

I saw he had quite an impact with the wall. I think after turn three he ran a bit wide. But as I said – you’re on the outside, you’re taking the risk. And on a street circuit like this, lap one and with his pace, it’s totally unnecessary.

I’ve not actually watched the video back, so I don’t know what the views are from your side and from television, but from within the car, it was my corner. As I said, I’ve not reviewed it fully yet. If Max was on the inside and I was trying to hold the position, he would have done the same, if not worse. So that’s part of racing.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The official verdict

The stewards did not investigate the incident.

Other drivers’ views

Sainz: I just think it’s super tricky to judge these cars, dirty air, lap one, zero grip on the tyres. There’s always going to be contact like this.

I had my problems in Australia with it, it was George and Max’s turn here. We’re fighting hard, we’re trying the best we can to keep the car under control. But it’s just when you are so at the limit with these cars, it’s very difficult to judge.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

Your verdict

Who do you think was responsible for the collision? Should the stewards issue a penalty? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Max Verstappen or George Russell have been penalised for their collision?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Verstappen should have been penalised severely (2%)
  • Verstappen should have been penalised lightly (4%)
  • Neither driver should have been penalised (78%)
  • Russell should have been penalised lightly (12%)
  • Russell should have been penalised severely (3%)

Total Voters: 134

Loading ... Loading ...

A RaceFans account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed instead of the voting form.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

64 comments on “Should the stewards have taken action over Russell-Verstappen collision?”

  1. I guess they could all drive around in formation while Max is allowed through to his rightful position up front. Or we could have motor racing. Tough choice.

    1. @david-br
      As George himself says, “I’m not going to just wave him past because he’s Max Verstappen”.

    2. It was also the only exciting thing to happen in the so-called Sprint Race.

  2. Nope – next?

  3. Noone. After several incidents over the years that Verstappen instigated and went unpunished today was on the receiving end.

    1. +1 The Biter Bit indeed!

    2. Yeah, but let’s say it was not Max and you consider the penalty that was handed to Sainz in the last Grand Prix? Was it still the right call? I don’t think so. The penalties are inconsistent.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        30th April 2023, 10:19

        George got a penalty at COTA for hitting Sainz on lap 1 turn 1 coming from behind and Sainz got his penalty because he was some distance from Alonso and didn’t take avoiding action keeping Gasly behind.

        Here they are more or less both going into the corner side by side.

  4. Russell should have gotten a penalty as he locked up and understeered into Verstappen. There is a precedent here, so I wonder why it wasn’t even under investigation.

    1. I am pretty sure he did not lock up. His car just drifted slightly under natural sliding. Verstappen could have backed out as he was on the outside and was more likely to come off worse. Going around the outside in a narrow cor er on a street circuit is probably not a great idea.

      It was a racing incident.

      However max ought to be punished for confronting another driver like that. He has form and so does his dad…

      So max has now siad that next time he will do the same. What a petulant little baby.

      I max had never crashed into anyone then I might have some sympathy, but he has done far far worse and thought it was fine!

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th April 2023, 0:18

        With Verstappen on the outside (longer way to go) and Russel’s front wheel hitting Verstappen’s sidepot, who do you think was ahead going into the corner?
        From what Russel litterally says, his logic is that you can dive into the inside and then it’s the outside car that is taking the risk and needs to back off.
        I’m not in favor of either driver, but an investigation would certainly have been right.

        1. If you are on the outside you are always at risk in racing. In many classes they run the outside guy wide, punt him off or understeer into him. It’s not clean racing but it’s racing.

          F1 needs to at least be consistent, if it’s let em race, then let em race and don’t penalize petty incidents. I feel if this was the last race and between the leaders they would have gone for penalties..

        2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          30th April 2023, 11:38

          Two wrongs don’t make a right but isn’t this exactly the kind of move that’s been carried out by most drivers, all drivers, at some time or other?

          The real problem is the aftermath and name calling. Kind of the same type of thing without the pushing he did to Ocon.

  5. At the end of the day, Max was as far to the outside as he could have possibly been and ahead or alongside enough to be entitled to some racing room and Russell just ran into him. It shouldn’t necessarily have been a penalty, as there’s an argument to be made for it being an accident, but it should have at least gotten attention from the stewards and not have been dismissed out of hand.

    1. Davethechicken
      30th April 2023, 8:47

      There was plenty of room outside Max (turn 2) at the moment of contact if you look at the slow mo. I agree after contact he is at the edge of the track but not when the contact occurred.
      Trying to hold a position on the outside of the track is always high risk doubly so on a street circuit.
      I am surprised George didn’t put him into the wall at turn 1, as GR had the line and apex.
      Russell was actually very fair. Sometimes two cars don’t go into one and Max really let his pride get in the way of a sensible racing decision.
      His moaning on the radio is the same as every other driver would have done in the heat of the moment.
      His premeditated waiting around for GR 30 minutes after the event, threats to retaliate and kindergarten name calling are sad to see in a child never mind a grown man.

    2. Fully agree

  6. I’d expect Verstappen to call it hard racing and move on. Strange behavior from him.

    1. Being hit? That would be a strange version of hard racing. I hope its not what Mercedes thinks bit it would explain an awful lot.

  7. Racing incident, simple as that for me.

    Max was really starting to become a mature, experienced, racing driver and I loved him for it.
    Yet one little encounter like this, and he is back to screaming “It’s Not Fair!”

    Come on Max.
    F1 needs you dude … you are damned good at racing so just take the knocks and move on.

    1. You should know then that people that are older than about 7-10 years never change. I don’t expect anything from Verstappen other than “I am always right and everyone else is always wrong”. He is a three year old spoiled child, and he will stay the same forever. Too bad people confuse this kind of behaviour with “great personality”.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th April 2023, 0:23

        You should know then that people that are older than about 7-10 years never change.

        There goes the basis for our judiciary system.
        I think it’s pretty obvious yours is an opinion (no fact, mind you) fitting for that same age group of 7-10 years.

      2. RandomMallard
        30th April 2023, 11:47

        You should know then that people that are older than about 7-10 years never change.

        He is a three year old spoiled child

        So surely, if he’s only 3 years old, he still has between 4 and 7 years to mature and grow up? :) /s

        Seriously though, I agree with you, I think people (*cough* Horner *cough*) have used the “he’s so young, he can still mature” reasoning so many time and considering he’s now 25 (hang on, he’s 25? Wow time can fly…) and in his 9th season I think it’s rightly not really holding anymore.

  8. Keep up the good work George.

    1. Well Said Sam, I was proud of GR when he wasn’t baited into a retaliation leading to a “push me pull you” fracas. Seems that GR has grown up, shame the brat hasn’t achieved it yet.

      1. Now he only has to learn to race properly, but kudo’s he is a nice bloke

  9. Always fun at Mercedes. We used to have “Bowling Bottas”, now we have “Ramming Russell”!

    1. He has not exactly been strong in avoiding contact, especially last season. Key to owning a corner is where you are relatively, not just ‘I was on the inside’. And the least you should do is to always make sure both can make it through. The Mercedes front corner on the RedBull rear corner contact continues..
      But in all fairness, yes if you have any ambition to become WDC you will need to make contact with the biggest ape of the pack sooner or later. You can’t keep backing out. But it is better if you pick a moment and race that matter.

  10. Tbh I didn’t even think there was contact until a replay and didn’t see the hole in the car until the end of the race. I can see why verstappen is mad but, first lap racing incident. I didn’t think Russell understeered. That’s just two s-class sized cars going around a city street corner flat out. You can also look at other examples in the race where the car on the outside just backed out. Hamilton lost a place to Alonso because he just backed out on the outside of Sainz on the restart.

    1. When people back out, it is chickening out, when max doesnt back out of an obvious and imminent crash, it is brave driving. if he can continue and lead the corner and/or other party come worse, he is right. if he comes of worse he cant come out leading, other party is 100 % fault and expletives added…. he doesnt know who to race how to race and most importantly when to race. you put a door knob to his side, he will race it!

      1. If Max were to back out, Who says George does not clip Max’s front left with his rear right? Instinctively, we all keep our foot on the gas when ahead.

      2. Why back out if you are ahead PLUS there is ample space for two cars through the corner? That would be totally illogical. He trusted a fellow driver, in this case incorrectly.

  11. I remember that in Austria Verstappen tapped Raikkonen, who lost the stability of the car and lost a position to Verstappen because of that tap. Eventually Verstappen won that race.

    Conclusion: Verstappen must shut up. No penalty required. It was tough fight, but fair. Verstappen just can’t handle the fact that he was overtaken by Russell for third time in the last five or six races.

    1. your last statement sums up perfectly why his upset.

    2. George isn’t just there to make up the numbers, has Max only just realised that?

    3. I remember Leclerc understeering into Verstappen in Japan in the first corner and getting a penalty. So why not now?

      1. And Max understeering into Leclerc in Austria and winning that race. So why now?

        1. My thought exactly Edvaldo . In the 2019 Austrian GP, Verstappen collided with Leclerc to take the lead and win the race. He latter called it “hard racing”.

          He also added:

          “It’s better than just following each other and having a boring race, isn’t it?”

        2. No, Max was in front there and claimed the corner that was his.

          1. That was wheel to wheel contact. Now in Baku Russell rammed Max´s sidepod (in other words: he was behind and had no right to claim the corner)

      2. I also remember Hamilton Sliding into MV while he was on the outside of a very fast corner/curve, and hammy was told very sharply by Horner that he was in the wrong because “Nobody” who thinks of themselves as a racing driver would ever keep up the pressure while on the inside, regardless of whether they were in front or not, because it was a notorious US Corner – and they did it so loudly that their mate MM penalised Hamilton for being there when he understeered into him – Pot and Kettle once again.

  12. “I can also pass like that if I keep turning into the side.”

    You’ve done that all the time Max in the past. It’s only because of others such incidents were avoided.

  13. Russell went into the corner too fast to be able to avoid bumping into a car that was ahead of him and on his outside.

    Let’s ask Sainz what the stewards think about that…

    Then the next corner Russell just about puts Verstappen in the wall by pushing him so far off that his own right side tyres are about a tyre’s width away from touching the white line. But apparently the F1 sanctioned highlights is going with “WHAT A MOVE!”. One wonders why.

    Russell should have at least been reprimanded, and maybe also been penalized since it’s hardly the first time he does this – both for causing a collision and for crowding another car off.

    If the 60 year old amateurs in the ELMS can behave better than F1 drivers, the FIA is failing badly to enforce their own rules.

    1. This is such a ridiculous mentality to have. Drivers are fighting over the same bit of tarmac. They are going to come together every now and then. This idea that every time drivers come together needs penalised is just dumb. Let them race, let them come to blows, let them deal with it amongst themselves.

      1. The only ridiculous thing here is the director of the GP Driver’s Association claiming that “when you’re on the inside at the apex of a corner, it’s your corner and if you try and hold it on the outside you’re taking the risk”.

        The rules are quite simple and apply to all FIA series: “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Pushing or other contact resulting in a lasting advantage is strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the Stewards.”

        Series the world over manage to go side by side through corners all the time. It’s only in the vicinity of F1 that this strange view Russell espouses has taken root.

        1. Series the world over have collisions when going through corners side by side. Take Formula E at Berlin or British GT at Oulton Park. You are just sprouting nonsense for the sake of either disliking a driver or team.

        2. Fully agree. But the majority of comment here show people have poor knowledge of racing rules leading to far fetched comments. This was textbook error from George but I do not think a penalty was necessary since it was a first lap incident. However based on his post race comments I would fine him in hindsight since it became clear it wasnt an error but a consequence of poor racing knowledge. FIA should protect both the integrity of the rules as well as the other drivers safety. Penalty points on his license would be fair. Comments like his also trigger confusion amongst the fan base who show very poor knowledge these days.

    2. Max should shut up. If you look at battle he had with Sainz just after he got overtaken by Russel at turn 3, he exactly did the same or even worse. He didn’t leave Sainz any racing room on the outside. So if Sainz did a Verstappen and hung it around the outside he would’ve ended up in the wall. I am almost 100% sure that Max would call that racing and stating that being on the outside is risky. That is the well-known ‘bail out or we crash’ mentality there with many drivers bailing out and not speaking up, which ultimately makes Max going on with his actions.

  14. verstroppen likes dishing it out but can’t take it!

  15. Max effectively won his first Championship with the mentality, ‘the other guy has more to lose’. He can hardly act surprised now that the shoe is on the other foot.

    It’s a bit tragic that the only event of note from all the action today is a half-hearted collision. It’s a racing incident and we shouldn’t go down this officious 5 seconds or 5 place grid drop nonsense when 2 cars come within a few inches of each other. Not every foul is a booking.

  16. And just like that, in 2023, Red Bull racing removed “racing incident” from the F1 lexicon.

  17. Coventry Climax
    30th April 2023, 0:33

    Yes they should have. There’s precedents enough where they have, and it’s just this, the unpredictability of race control, that drives people -and drivers- crazy.
    I’m fine with not investigating an incident like this, but then FIA, mention this up front, prefereblay ahead of instead of into the season, and act accordingly and consistently.

    I don’t care much about either driver, whereas the reactions here are generally biassed.

  18. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    30th April 2023, 0:41

    No to any penalty. That was just close racing… I do agree with Max in that Russell should have given Max more racing room in avoiding giving him damage. Just because Russell has the “inside” line doesn’t mean the outside guy can’t be allowed racing room to challenge especially since Max was well along side.

  19. Neither & no action needed.

  20. I don’t see fault with what Russell did here. But I would really like to understand the opinions of the people that voted Max at fault, why do you think so?

    1. I have got a feeling it is not based on the actual event somehow.

  21. No action needed. Though I f the roles were reversed everyone would cry “Verstappen can’t do wheel to wheel racing”.

  22. George has turned into the torpedo since driving for MB.
    Given that George himself said RB was going to win every race you wonder why he bothers to begin with.

    1. This too. If you decide to go into error mode to send a message the at least do it when it matters, when something is at stake (ref Lewis on Max Silverstone ’21.) This was just poor judgement.

  23. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    30th April 2023, 8:22

    By not even noting the incident, the stewards have done exactly what they needed to do. Racing incident, clear and simple.

  24. It’s hard to forget Brazil 2022 when Max was penalised for barrelling down the inside into a Mercedes, when there was one driver much more obviously at fault (and the stewards agreed). At the time he said “I immediately felt he was not going to leave space so I just went for it. He didn’t leave me space so I knew that we were going to get together. I thought we could race quite well together but clearly the intention was not there to race.“

    Or Italy 2021 “This is what you get when you don’t give space”, another penalty.

    On neither occasion was it a street circuit where damage was inevitable around the outside or was Max ahead. On neither occasion did the victim feel the need to resort to name calling.

    It’s always someone else’s fault with Max, and his team, who do know better, encourage it.

    Until he learns when he is beaten in a battle it will keep happening. He’s greatly improved as a driver over the past couple of years, but his decision making and attitude still need some work.

    1. Greatly improved? nah!

      Get him into the current Mercedes, you would see that it’s the car whose performance has covered that “give way or we crash” attitude

      He is a fast driver when her has the right equipment, that is all…

Comments are closed.