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George Russell

Russell 'almost glad' Imola 2021 collision with Bottas happened

George Russell believes that he ultimately benefitted from the infamous collision between himself and Valtteri Bottas at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in 2021.

Bottas Russell 2021 Emilia Romagna GP
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To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell believes that he gained from his collision with Valtteri Bottas at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite the initial repercussions.

As a Mercedes-affiliated driver racing for Williams last season, Russell lost control of his car at a wet race in Imola, crashing into then-Mercedes driver Bottas and putting both out of the race.

At the time, the incident was seen as a blow to Russell's hopes of a promotion to the Mercedes seat for 2022, before standout performances triggered a call-up for 2022.

Speaking on the High Performance Podcast, Russell revealed that at the time of the incident he hadn't focused on the fact that he was racing against a Mercedes, and believed that he'd learned from his heated reaction to the crash.

"It didn't even really cross my mind that it was Valtteri and a Mercedes [ahead], it was an opening to score points for myself and for my team," said Russell.

"I was furious with Valtteri, which was probably not the right thing to do.

"That was an opportunity that I saw, that has now just disappeared. It wasn't that I've just crashed into Valtteri or a Mercedes. It's points we [Williams] have lost, and I thought he'd lost them for us.

"That was probably also a lesson for me that you need to look at the overall picture from other people's view before taking a snap judgement.

"I was very hot-headed and went over, he was also hot-headed, middle fingers were flying and the 'F' and the 'C' words were being thrown around, and it was not a very pleasant situation.

"That was also a really good learning [moment] for me; you need to take a moment to think about it before [making] snap judgments."

Wolff 'very upset' with costly damage

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff vented his frustration in the aftermath of the incident, and Russell detailed a frosty flight back with the Mercedes boss, who was unhappy with the cost of the crash damage.

"I was flying home with Toto that evening. [but] that was always the case. So, the one flight that I take with him a year, it was that that one!" added Russell.

"He was very upset with the situation and also pretty angry because that was the very first year of this new financial cost cap that have been implemented.

"The damage that occurred and that incident for Mercedes was I think one and a half million dollars, so that's one and a half million dollars taken away from the overall budget. So, he was obviously very upset and frustrated about that.

"It was all just a messy, not a good situation. We left it for the following day and then I went around his house for lunch on Saturday, and everything was no problem at all, and we moved on from it."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Russell: I'm almost glad the crash happened

The unique circumstances of a 'junior' driver crashing into the Mercedes works driver created a "strange dynamic", according to Russell.

The Briton explained that an unintended result of the collision was the opportunity to build a greater rapport with the Mercedes engineers who he was potentially going to work with in the future.

"I feel that in situations like that...you almost grow together, it sort of pulls you closer and, as it happened, I probably built a closer relationship with Valtteri's group of engineers and team, because I knew them already," explained Russell.

"It was the chief mechanic and chief engineer for him. I spoke to them both: 'Really sorry for how that panned out', and they said, 'don't worry about it'.

"Obviously a strange dynamic. I'm a Williams driver crashing into a Mercedes driver, and then I'm on the phone to the Mercedes team saying, 'I'm sorry for how that that panned out'.

"But I feel I'm almost glad for that crash, because I feel better for it. I feel a more rounded person, I see things maybe slightly differently.

"These moments in life, I guess, mature you, there's no perfect moments and you need mistakes."

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