Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Williams' George Russell forced the Emilia Romagna GP to be stopped for a while in the middle of the race, due to their huge collision. The stewards eventually ruled it as a racing incident, but that hasn't stopped the argument from continuing here at RacingNews365.com headquarters! Here's what our writers think. Who do you agree with?
It was one of those cases of a small mistake having a huge consequence, just like Lewis Hamilton's incident a lap earlier when his off nearly had big implications. The kink on the straight complicates things, but every driver moves towards the racing line when defending the inside going into a corner. You can't expect Bottas to simply hug the inside, and he left enough room for Russell. The pair were racing at high speeds, travelling at over 300km/h but F1 is always about fine margins. It's about dealing with the risk versus reward game and Russell made a mistake with an overtake that was definitely on. Russell misjudged the move and he is fortunate to get away from the incident without receiving a grid penalty for the next race in Portugal. Whenever someone is clearly at fault, which in this case I feel Russell is, a penalty should be awarded.
In the end I believe the stewards made the right decision in not penalising either driver, but if I were to assign blame I would say it’s 60/40 on Russell. Bottas had every right to try and keep his position as the two drivers were battling for position. What made the difference is that Russell misjudged where he was trying to make that pass, and while I’m sure he didn’t mean to put his tyres on wet grass, doing so at those speeds was always gonna lead to trouble. Add in that Russell had his DRS open at that time, which meant he didn’t have enough load on the rear tyres, and it’s no surprise he lost control. Thankfully they were both ok.
If an accident has been caused by a driver losing control of their car, then it's pretty logical that George Russell, however unintentionally, was the cause of the crash. But that isn't to say that the blame rests with him. Bottas defended the dry line, as was his right, and was perfectly entitled to give Russell a little squeeze. If anything, I would say the blame rests with Race Control for activating DRS in conditions where using it would force cars with reduced downforce onto a damp track. Michael Masi said it was OK, and I'm not a Race Director, but I wouldn't have had DRS enabled while there was still plenty of spray off-line. I also think Toto Wolff's reaction, namely that Russell shouldn't have tried to overtake, was nonsensical. Expecting a driver not to overtake a slower car because that slower car will eventually go on to be quicker later? It was a silly statement, and expecting Russell not to have a pop at the Mercedes was the opinion of a boss who has had things go his way too often. Should Russell have responded with such anger? Absolutely not. But, as I said in my post-race column , I think there's an underlying frustration there. Once he'd slept on it, he came back with a much more circumspect attitude. A mature response.