• George Russell and Valtteri Bottas crash into each during the 2021 Imola Grand Prix in Italy.
• Both drivers walked away unscathed, but were left visibly shaken.
• Russell attempted a pass on Bottas before the Mercedes driver tried to close the proverbial door on him.
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This past Sunday, Italy played host to the second race of the 2021 Formula 1 season. Though Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen won the race, lap 32 saw one of the most insane, most hair-raising incidents we've seen in years. A passing manoeuvre gone wrong saw Williams' George Russell careening into the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. The impact was so severe that both cars were reduced to piles of rubble.
Not only did the crash bring both drivers' races to a screeching halt, but it also saw the race red-flagged for around 30 minutes as marshals cleared the track and removed the stricken F1 cars. Bottas and Russell talked to their respective teams as soon as the incident happened, with both drivers using four-letter curse words to describe the other.
But who is to blame for the crash, or should Bottas and Russell take equal responsibility?
It was a massive hit
Coming down the pit straight, Russell was lining up to execute a pass on Bottas. Given the narrow nature of the track, this is basically the only real chance drivers have of overtaking their on-track rivals. And though the Williams is a far inferior car to the Mercedes, Russell did his best to line Bottas up for the taking.
As Russell approached, Bottas moved to the left to protect the inside line, but what he did next put both drivers in harm's way: Bottas steered slightly to the right (towards the middle of the track), which forced Russell to steer right, as well. The right tyres on Russell's car touched the damp grass, which resulted in him losing control of the car and giving Bottas a nasty shunt.
Though some might ask what Bottas was doing on the grass, video evidence shows that Bottas tried to close the door on the Williams driver in an attempt to protect his position. While Russell was well within the rules when performing the overtake, Bottas' defence was ill-timed and dangerous.
Both drivers were visibly shaken after the crash, but Russell was left more infuriated - and rightly so.
In your opinion, who is to blame for the crash between these two drivers, and why? Email us your opinion, or use the comment section below.
Blame the prospect
As a future Mercedes driver, possibly as early as 2022, Toto Wolff has hinted that he blames Russell for what happened. Wolff believes that Russell should not feel that he should prove himself, which can lead to ill-timed actions on track.
Wolff said: "I have to talk to George again. I accept that there is a learning curve, but for that there has to be insight. He might need to think about it for a few days. I don't want him (Russell) to prove anything to us."
Russell is in the running to replace either Bottas or seven-times champion Lewis Hamilton at the Mercedes-AMG F1 team next year - should the team decide to let one, or both, of its current drivers go.
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