F1: Hamilton and Bottas take the W12 Mercedes around Bahrain
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After the very public Mercedes fallout from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas, team principal Toto Wolff has given his stance on the etiquette for his drivers moving forward.
The spat between the pair came after the race in Imola, where the two were involved in a high-speed crash that ruined both their races.
The Williams driver tried to go around the outside of Bottas, who was struggling after starting P8 – but the two collided, sending the pair spinning and hitting the barriers hard, leaving debris all across the track.
The Williams driver immediately got out and strutted over to Bottas’ strewn car in what looked to be a heated exchange, with the Finn showing the Briton a middle finger before Russell stormed off shaking his head.
The war of words continued in the aftermath, with both Mercedes-backed drivers blaming the other for the incident.
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Wolff declared the incident as unamusing for the team, Bottas placed the blame firmly on Russell, while the 23-year-old was furious at the Finn.
Russell has since apologised for his actions, announcing he would treat both Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as “team-mates” on track from now on.
However, during the team principals’ press conference in Portugal, Wolff dismissed any suggestion that the Mercedes junior driver had any rules to follow.
“There is no confusion on any side, and there are no rules for any of the drivers. It was just us giving feedback,” he said.
“I think I want most of (the conversations will) stay confidential because I had discussions with both of the drivers.
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“Drivers have to go for a gap, and sometimes it’s evaluating whether it’s taking a risk or not. I guess that a young driver will always go for the possibility and nothing else is expected.
“Then the question is, is there enough reaction time to take to evaluate who is the other car? I think not. So in a way, there is never 100% blame on one and zero on the other one. It’s probably always much more nuanced and I’m really happy about the conversation we had.”
However, the nature of the accident, with Russell being a Mercedes Junior driver, has created an interesting subplot to the season, though it is one that Wolff could probably do without.
When asked during the press conference ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix if Wolff had spoken to him, Russell replied: “Yeah, of course, we have spoken extensively since the incident, but the contents of that will remain private, but you know – he’s been very supportive and very constructive.
“Our relationship has not been damaged at all following the incident – if anything, quite the opposite.
“Likewise, everybody at Williams, they’ve been incredibly supportive. They want me to attack (and) go for opportunities. We were proud to have been in that position.
“We were in 10th position and fighting for position on merit.
“We’ve got to be proud of the progress.”
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