George Russell apologises to Valtteri Bottas after Emilia Romagna GP crash: 'It wasn't my proudest day'
George Russell: "Having had time to reflect on what happened afterwards, I know I should have handled the whole situation better... I apologise to Valtteri, to my team and to anyone who felt let down by my actions. That's not who I am and I expect more from myself"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 19/04/21 10:48pm
George Russell has issued a statement apologising to Valtteri Bottas and admitted he should have "handled the whole situation better" over their race-ending collision in the Emilia Romagna GP.
Posting a sincere message on his social media accounts on Monday evening, Russell said he had "to take responsibility" for the "risk" of overtaking Bottas on lap 32 not paying off and that, having been heavily critical of the Mercedes driver afterwards, his emotions "got the better of me".
"Yesterday wasn't my proudest day," he wrote.
"I knew it would be one of our best opportunities to score points this season and, when those points matter as much as they do to us right now, sometimes you take risks.
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"It didn't pay off and I have to take responsibility for that. Having had time to reflect on what happened afterwards, I know I should have handled the whole situation better.
"Emotions can run high in the heat of the moment and yesterday mine got the better of me.
"I apologise to Valtteri, to my team and to anyone who felt let down by my actions. That's not who I am and I expect more from myself, as I know others expect more from me."
Bottas' Mercedes team-mate and seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton commented on Russell's post, saying "respect for taking responsibility".
"Strength comes from vulnerability," he wrote. "If you don't make the mistake you can never learn the lesson. Respect for taking responsibility. On to the next one."
Although the stewards ruled the crash as a racing incident in which neither driver was predominantly at fault, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff - whose outfit manages Russell's career - suggested Russell should not have tried to overtake Bottas where he did.
"I've learned some tough lessons this weekend and will come out of this a better driver and a better person for the experience," continued Russell in his statement.
"Now it's full focus on Portugal and a chance to show what I'm really about. Thanks for all the messages, both positive and negative. They will all help me to grow."
Russell had appeared incensed about the incident and went over to confront Bottas while the Finn was still in his crashed Mercedes in the gravel trap. Russell later told Sky F1 he had asked Bottas "if he was trying to kill us both", while in a particularly incendiary accusation claimed: "Perhaps if I was another driver, he wouldn't have done that".
Bottas, who blamed the Williams driver for the accident, was seen given Russell the middle finger in the exchange.