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Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

Wolff: Russell has ‘lots to learn’ after Bottas F1 crash

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff believes his protégé George Russell has “lots to learn” following his Formula 1 crash with Valtteri Bottas at Imola, saying the Mercedes car is almost a write-off.

George Russell, Williams FW43B, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41, and Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C41

Williams driver Russell collided with Bottas when trying to overtake for ninth place at high-speed during Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, resulting in a sizeable crash.

The incident left debris strewn across the track and caused the race to be red-flagged, and sparked angry reactions from both Russell and Bottas, who blamed each other.

Mercedes team principal Wolff said that while there was “never such a situation in life where one is 100% to blame and the other zero”, he questioned why Russell made the move that he did, particularly as a Mercedes young driver.

“The whole situation should have never happened,” Wolff said. “Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps, and shouldn’t have been there. But George should have never launched into this manoeuvre, considering that the track was drying up.

“It meant taking risks, and the other car is a Mercedes in front of him. In any driver’s development, for a young driver, you must never lose this global perspective.

“So yeah, lots to learn for him I guess.”

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Russell has been a member of Mercedes’ young driver programme since 2017, and has been tipped as a possible future driver for the senior team.

Wolff felt Russell should have handled the situation differently given he was fighting against a Mercedes car.

“You need to see that there is a Mercedes and it is wet, it bears a certain risk to overtake,” Wolff said.

“And the odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up. Now I don’t want him to try to prove anything to us, because one thing I can say since knowing Valtteri for five years, he’s not trying to prove anything.”

Following the incident, Russell questioned why Bottas made the move he did when battling for ninth place, saying: “Perhaps if it was another driver, he wouldn’t have. So that’s what went through my mind." Russell has been tipped as a possible successor to Bottas at Mercedes, potentially as early as 2022.

When told the quote by Motorsport.com, Wolff said the suggestion was “bullshit”.

“The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest,” Wolff said.

“It’s quite a big shunt. Our car is almost a write-off in a cost-cap environment that is certainly what we needed, and probably it’s going to limit upgrades that we’re able to do.

“Simply the fact that we ended there by losing it in the wet, because there was no contact, losing it on the wet, and making both cars crash out is not what I expect to see.”

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