Max Verstappen’s vehement criticism of George Russell’s driving following the collision between the pair in yesterday’s sprint race left Mercedes’ team principal unmoved.
Russell was trying to pass Verstappen on the inside of turn two when the pair made contact while disputing third place on the opening lap of yesterday’s encounter. Although Russell claimed the place, Verstappen was able to overtake him after the race restarted.
The collision infuriated Verstappen, who confronted his rival after the race and called him a “dickhead”. However Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Russell “defended well” and Verstappen had put himself in a vulnerable position.
“I think it’s dangerous to overtake from the outside because you could either end up in the run-off or you can end up in the wall,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Or you can have somebody on the inside that is weak and gives you all the place in the world.
“But on the inside, it’s quite an angle you need to achieve. And if you try to turn around there tightly, you’re going to lose out on the next straight.”
However Wolff said he understood why Verstappen was angry afterwards. “That’s a race situation that is, you’re trying the outside, that’s never going to be an easy position. They collided, he had a big hole in the car and that’s certainly sub-optimal for your race. It’s absolutely understandable that he’s upset.
“On the other side, George defended the position, and that’s also clear that they’re going to do that. So it’s not the first time, I guess, they had this situation between each other.”
Wolff suspects Verstappen’s frustration was partly a result of his team mate winning the race. “They are all upset when they lose,” he said. “If your team mate [is] winning and you finish third and you haven’t got performance in the car because you have a big hole, absolutely you’re upset.
“Each of them vents that differently. As long as you’re authentic, that’s good and Max is quite outspoken. Probably forgets about it one hour later. That’s okay.”
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