George Russell and Valtteri Bottas have moved on from the Imola incident, but they haven’t had any chats since the stewards meet.
Two weeks on from the incident in Imola, Williams’ Russell and Mercedes’ Bottas reflected on the matter for the final time. While the British racer acknowledged learning from the whole episode, the latter was more sedate and focused on moving on.
While Russell noted after Imola that he would like have a talk, it didn’t happen between him and Bottas. The two, though, did speak with Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff separately. For the Williams drivers, he reflected on his statement and learning.
“I think having had a week, even just an evening, to let the emotions calm down and reflect on everything i think the incident is one thing that is part of racing and these things do happen,” started Russell in press conference. “I think the actions I did afterwards were not my true self.
“I went against my own instincts to walk away and almost show a bit of emotion which was probably a very poor judgment call in the heat of the moment, which led to a few more things later in the afternoon. That’s why I felt it was necessary for me to put that out on Monday morning to apologise for my actions because I do want to lead by example and I do want to be a role model.
“Those actions after the incident were not leading by example. I think with regards to my statement on Monday, that was purely focused on my actions afterwards. I think as part of racing you do have coming together and when the emotions are high and my emotions have probably never been higher having just crashed at 200mph.
“That was a big lesson for me that you need to take a moment to walk away from a situation, look at it from all angles. Just looking at it rationally but I think for me it was important to put that statement out because as I said the way I felt like I reacted afterwards was not my true self and that’s not the way I want to be looked at from fans, from other people in the sport because that wasn’t me.
“The on-track thing is one thing but how you conduct yourself off track is a very different matter and that’s why i thought it was important to apologise for those actions,” summed up Russell, who then added about his talks with Wolff – not going into details, though.
“Yes, of course, Toto and I have spoken extensively since the incident but the contents of that will remain private,” said Russell. “But he has been very supportive and very constructive. Our relationship has not been damaged at all following the incident, if anything quite the opposite, so, likewise everybody at Williams has been incredibly supportive and they want me to attack and go for opportunities.
“We were proud to be in that position, in 10th position fighting for points on merit. We were there are points last year but through fortunate opportunities of other cars retiring, but we were truly there on merit going for an overtake. So we have got to be proud of the progress,” summed up Russell, as he added about rules of engagement in future.
“I think what’s important is as a racing driver, the first rule is you should never crash with your team-mate,” said Russell. “Obviously, right here I would not be in the position I am today without the support of Mercedes. They’ve had my back since day one and as a consequence, Lewis and Valtteri are team-mates of sorts to me and regardless of the circumstances we should not be coming together on track.
“Whether it was my fault, his fault or a racing incident obviously emotions were high for all of us and I agree with that, that we should not be coming together but nevertheless I don’t go into any overtake planning to crash or to end my race. That was obviously an audacious attempt, i got it perhaps wrong on that occasion because ultimately it ended my race and the race for our team and missing out on points.
“I think first if we find ourselves fighting a Mercedes again, we’ll be doing a very good job and we’ll be in a very good position, so hopefully we do find ourselves in that circumstance. But no definitely there’s no rules of engagement, it’s just a bit more of common sense. As i said, as a driver you never go into any incident planning to crash and end your race and certainly not with a team-mate.
“As I stated, I’m here because of Mercedes, they got me through all the junior ranks, they really helped me into Formula 1 and as a consequence they’re a family to me as Williams are a family to me. Lewis and Valterri are team-mates to me as Nicholas is a team-mate to me, so the number one rule as a racing driver is you don’t crash with your team-mate, so that’s behind us now, we live and learn and we will move on,” summed up Russell.
On the other hand, Bottas, spoke less about the incident and felt better after it, even physically, as he drove during the 18-inch test. The Finn noted that he read the apology and that was enough for him, which didn’t require any further talks even.
“I heard about his post and apology and I read it,” said Bottas. “But to be honest we haven’t spoken after the race, after the stewards. I did have a missed call on Monday morning but I was still sleeping. We haven’t spoken, but I’m sure it’s the same for George, it’s done and dusted, it’s history, there was no decision by the stewards, George apologised and time to move on.
“As with Toto, we had a chat after just to go through the situation, which is normal. But apart from that, we agreed to take the positives and learn from the negatives and move on. Kind of one to forget really. One positive for sure is that it was only race two of the season and there’s 21 to go,” summed up Bottas.
Here’s George Russell and Valtteri Bottas on no relation affect