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Bottas: No gentleman’s agreement broken in Russell crash

Valtteri Bottas says he did not break any gentleman’s agreement between the Formula 1 drivers in his defence against George Russell prior to their Imola crash.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W12

Bottas and Russell collided while battling for ninth place in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with the severity of their crash resulting in a red flag.

Both drivers were quick to blame each other for causing the crash that left Bottas’ Mercedes car with a significant amount of damage that could limit the team’s upgrade plans for the rest of the year.

Russell claimed in the immediate aftermath of the incident that Bottas had broken a gentleman’s agreement between the drivers.

“Between all of the drivers, we’ve had this gentleman’s agreement that when there’s a faster car approaching with the DRS, you don’t jolt the steering wheel at the very last moment,” Russell said, comparing the move to Max Verstappen’s actions under braking in 2015 that prompted a rule rewrite.

“It’s the smallest of moves, but when you’re going at 220 mph, and you’re going 30 mph quicker than the car ahead, it’s massive.”

Russell has since apologised to Bottas for his reaction to the incident, taking responsibility for the collision that left Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff saying the young Briton had “lots to learn”.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he had broken any gentleman’s agreement, Bottas replied: “No, I don’t see it that way at all.

“I didn’t make any sudden moves. I think it’s quite clear from his onboard as well, I always left a space.

“No, from my side, it was clean. And of course I’m defending, I’m not going to make any room for him. But also when I race, I have respect. So I see it differently than him."

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The stewards investigating the incident confirmed that Bottas did not change his line at all on the approach to Turn 2, deeming the collision to be a racing incident.

Bottas said that he could have been “a lot more aggressive” when defending the position, and that Russell should have been aware that the outside line would have been damp still.

“He knew that it was going to be damp there, because we have gone there lap after lap,” Bottas said.

“I knew as well, and it was just not a place to go in those conditions on slicks. But he still went there.

“It was his choice to go there, I was doing my job trying to defend, and I’m not going to move away and give him the dry patch back. That’s how it goes.”

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