A furious George Russell confronted Valtteri Bottas and asked if he was trying to kill them both after a scary high-speed crash in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen won a chaotic and crash-halted race at Imola with Lewis Hamilton finishing second for Mercedes to stay ahead in the championship by a single point.
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But the smash between Bottas and Russell was the major talking point, bringing the race to a halt on Sunday with debris strewn across the asphalt.
Russell clambered out and went over to confront the Finn, who appeared to raise his middle finger in response.
“I asked him if he was trying to kill us both,” Russell, who had been fighting for ninth place and has been seen as a contender to take Bottas’s seat next year, told Sky Sports.
Television images were inconclusive as to where the blame lay, but rising star Russell felt the experienced Finn had moved over and nudged him towards the wet edge of the track – something Bottas was adamant had not been the case.
“What the f*** was he doing? Is he a **** **** or what?” Russell said on his team radio.
Stewards ruled it was a racing incident after hearing from both drivers.
“I was coming on Valtteri massively fast, I had the slipstream and the DRS (drag reduction system) 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,” said Russell.
“There is a gentleman’s agreement that is not what you do because it is incredibly dangerous.
“In completely dry conditions I’d have been fine but it just put me onto the wet patch and I lost it… we’re going at 200mph and you need to respect the speed and the conditions.
“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.”
Valtteri Bottas denies wrongdoing in crash
Bottas told reporters he had been unable to hear what Russell had said because he was still in the car with his helmet on but denied doing anything wrong.
He said he would have defended against any driver and ridiculed a suggestion that he might have been more reluctant to let Russell go past given their potential rivalry for the Mercedes seat.
“I’m sorry, I lost my aluminium foil hat somewhere,” he said.
“It’s quite a theory. I’m not keen to lose any positions. That was normal defending.”
Verstappen’s win, by a commanding 22 seconds at the chequered flag of the season’s second race, was the 11th of the Dutch youngster’s career.
“It was very challenging out there, especially in the beginning to stay on track to be honest, it was very slippery,” Verstappen said of an afternoon that started with most drivers on intermediate tyres but some on full wets.
Hamilton, winner of the Bahrain season-opener, took a crucial bonus point for fastest lap on a rollercoaster afternoon for the seven-times world champion.
Lando Norris’ third-place finish completed an excellent day’s work for a driver whose deleted best lap in qualifying would have seen him start third rather than seventh, while his Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who had earlier let Norris overtake him on team instructions, ended up sixth.
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