George Russell told he has 'lots to learn' after Valtteri Bottas Imola crash by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff refuses to single out either driver for total blame in the dramatic high-speed accident but says Mercedes junior George Russell should have been more conscious of the "global perspective"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 19/04/21 3:13pm
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says George Russell has "lots to learn" over the events of his race-ending crash with Valtteri Bottas.
Although the Mercedes team principal did not directly blame either of the drivers for causing the lap-32 accident that dramatically took both cars out of the race - with stewards also not finding either wholly at fault - an unimpressed Wolff felt Russell had been unwise to attempt the overtake where he did in the first place.
"There is never such a situation in life where one is 100 per cent to blame and the other is zero," said Wolff.
"The whole situation should have never happened."
Wolff added: "Valtteri had a difficult first 30 laps and shouldn't have been there [in ninth] but George should have never launched into this manoeuvre considering that the track was drying up.
"It meant taking risks and the other car is a Mercedes in front of him and in any drivers' development as a young driver you must never lose this global perspective.
"Lots to learn for him I guess."
- George Russell & Valtteri Bottas crash - What the drivers and pundits said
- The full Imola stewards' verdict
- Late penalties shuffle final points positions
Russell's career has been managed by Mercedes since 2017 and he was called up from Williams to stand in for Lewis Hamilton when the world champion was sidelined by Covid-19 at last December's Sakhir GP, a performance in which he impressed and nearly won on his debut in a front-running F1 car.
Russell is in contention to make a full-time promotion to Mercedes next year with the 23-year-old in the final year of his deal at Williams at the same time that both Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are also out of contract.
"You need to see that there is a Mercedes and it bears a certain risk to overtake," added Wolff. "The odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up.
"I don't want him to try to prove anything to us because one thing I can say knowing Valtteri for five years, he's not trying to prove anything. "
Speaking to Sky F1 immediately after the race, a tongue-in-cheek Wolff had said: "I keep teasing him [Russell] saying if he does a good job he can be in a Mercedes, if not we will be in the Renault Clio Cup.
"Today we are more close to the Renault Clio Cup."
Disappointed Russell reflects on 'unfortunate incident'
Thanks for all the messages. I'm fine, just disappointed. At the end of the day, it's an unfortunate incident. You're entitled to defend your position. But at 330kph, you have to respect the speed and the conditions when doing so. Gutted for the team. They deserved more today.— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 18, 2021
Russell and Bottas blamed each other for causing the accident in their immediate TV interviews afterwards.
The Briton said he had asked the Finn "if he was trying to kill us both" when he confronted him in the gravel trap, while he also suggested that "perhaps if I was another driver, he wouldn't have done that" - a claim Wolff later rejected out of hand when the comments were relaid to him.
In a later post on social media, Russell appeared to soften his stance by saying that it had been "an unfortunate incident" although also said that, while drivers can defend position, "you have to respect the speed and the conditions when doing so".
The DNF means Russell's wait for a first point as a Williams driver continues after 39 starts for the Grove team.