As well as damaging his car, George Russell could have damaged his Mercedes future after a high-speed crashh.

As well as damaging his car, George Russell could have damaged his Mercedes future after a high-speed crash with Valtteri Bottas at Imola on Sunday.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Russell still has “lots to learn.”

The 23-year-old Russell is in his final season with Williams and has been tipped for a Mercedes seat in 2022, possibly as a replacement for Bottas.

Max Verstappen eased to victory in an incident-packed Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday as he comfortably beat Lewis Hamilton, who almost crashed out after a rare error.

Russell has been part of the Mercedes’ young driver program since 2017 but did his immediate future with the Formula One team no favors after a crash with Bottas on lap 34 of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. It caused the race to be red-flagged with debris from their cars scattered across the track.

Both drivers were unable to continue and Wolff said he would be speaking to Russell about the incident.

“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 maneuver, 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.”

Wolff stressed that Russell should have handled the situation differently.

“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.”

Both drivers were furious in the aftermath with Bottas flicking his middle finger at Russell, who responded by swatting the Finnish driver with his hand.

“I couldn’t hear what he was saying,” Bottas said. “Obviously I had my helmet on. I couldn’t hear a thing so that’s that.

“From my side of it, it’s quite straightforward, I was obviously defending my position … he went for it and obviously lost it and hit me and it was game over.”

https://twitter.com/GeorgeRussell63/status/1383789328082489354

Russell said a number of factors had played a part, including the slippery conditions, but felt that Bottas had made a late movement toward him, breaking a driver’s code.

“I don’t see it that way at all. I didn’t make any sudden moves … and always left the space,” Bottas said. “From my side it was clean. 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.”

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was forced to give way to junior McLaren teammate Lando Norris, ultimately finishing sixth as the rising Briton made the podium.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Russell was clearly still angry about the incident, blaming Bottas for a small movement as the Williams driver was trying to overtake.

“I was coming up to Valtteri massively fast. I had the slipstream. I had the DRS,” he said.

“And just as I pulled out, he jolted very, very slightly to the right – which is a tactical defence that drivers in the past used to do. It was sort of the Verstappen move of 2015.

“There is a gentlemen’s agreement that that is not what you do because it is incredibly dangerous. In completely dry conditions I would have been fine, but it put me onto the wet patch and I lost it.

“An unfortunate incident, but we’re going at 200mph. You need to respect the speed and the conditions.”

Russell then approached Bottas with the pair exchanging words with the Brit revealing he asked Bottas “if he was trying to kill us both”.

“In his eyes, he’s not really fighting for anything,” Russell added. “A P9 for him is nothing, but for us it’s everything. I’m going for the move, the move would have been absolutely easy and there’s absolutely no reason to jolt like that.

“Like I said, it’s a gentlemen’s agreement between the drivers, we’ve always said it’s going to cause a massive collision one day. And here we are.”

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