D**Khead : Verstappen vs. Russell – Heated Exchange Follows Tense Battle at Azerbaijan GP Sprint
Tempers Flare at Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Verstappen Clashes with Russell Over Risky First-Lap Encounter. Tension soared following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint as Max Verstappen voiced his frustration with George Russell after a daring first-lap move resulted in minor damage to his Red Bull car.
Max Verstappen expressed his frustration with George Russell following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint after a first-lap encounter resulted in minor damage to his Red Bull car. He criticized the Mercedes driver’s tactics, stating that they “don’t make sense.”
During the race, Russell made a daring move on the inside of Verstappen for third place at the first corner, due to a better start. The two drivers had a minor collision at that moment and a more significant impact at Turn 2, causing Verstappen to veer slightly sideways and leaving a hole in his Red Bull’s sidepod. Another close encounter occurred at Turn 3 before Russell definitively pulled ahead.
Although Verstappen voiced his discontent over the radio and eventually overtook Russell for third position during a safety car restart, he remained upset after the race concluded.
Upon inspecting the damage to his vehicle, Verstappen approached a remorseful Russell in parc ferme.
Although the beginning of the conversation wasn’t caught on camera, Russell was heard assuring Verstappen that the incident was unintentional, saying, “It’s not purposeful, mate, I got no grip. I’m just locking up!” Verstappen responded with a dismissive sound and countered, “Mate, we all have no grip! We all need to leave a little bit of space.”
Russell acknowledged this with, “I know, I know!” and then suggested, “Well, watch the onboard.”
Verstappen reacted with a sarcastic, “Yeah, sure,” and as Russell walked away, he warned, “But expect the same next time, you know?!” He then muttered “d**khead” under his breath before proceeding to congratulate his race-winning teammate, Sergio Perez.
In a subsequent interview, Verstappen was highly critical of both Russell’s driving and his attitude.
Verstappen expressed his confusion about the unnecessary risks taken on the first lap, saying, “I just don’t understand why you need to take so much risk on lap one.”
He went on to describe the incident, “He understeered into my sidepod, created a hole. We all have cold tyres, it’s easy to lock up.”
Verstappen was unimpressed with Russell’s explanation, stating, “He has this beautiful way of explaining, ‘ah mate, you know, I locked up, ah, look at the onboards’. It doesn’t make sense.”
Despite his frustration, Verstappen acknowledged, “But it’s fine, we still got into P3, got some good points.”
When questioned during the press conference about leaving enough space for Russell, Verstappen referred to previous collisions between Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, such as his and Lewis Hamilton’s altercations during their 2021 title fight. He responded, “I think I did [leave space]. We definitely got around the corner without him hitting the inside barrier. So I think I did leave enough space but apparently it’s hard to not hit a Red Bull car, I guess, for them.”
Russell, however, believed he had no reason to apologize and was puzzled by Verstappen’s perspective. He told Sky, “I was down the inside. As a driver, you know the risks when you’re on the outside.”
Russell emphasized his competitive spirit, saying, “I’m here to fight, I’m here to win. I’m not going to hold back just because he’s leading the championship.”
He expressed surprise at Verstappen’s attempt to maintain his position on the outside, considering the street circuit setting. Russell pointed out that Verstappen had more to lose in the situation, adding, “None of the contact was intentional. I was doing my best just to have a clean fight. I was quite surprised that he was resisting the position. I was on the inside. There’s nothing I can say other than that.”
Russell was also taken aback by Verstappen’s anger, especially since he still finished in P3. He argued that Verstappen, with his experience, should have known better than to try overtaking on the outside, as the inside driver would likely run wide into him. Russell believed the outcome would have been the same if their positions had been reversed.
Russell told Sky he anticipated Verstappen would commend him for a “good battle, nice fight” when approached. “I was very surprised how angry he was,” he said.
He also mentioned not hearing much of Verstappen’s tirade beyond an initial burst of swearing. Russell referenced the past altercation between Verstappen and Esteban Ocon at the 2018 Brazil race as his reason for keeping his helmet on during their exchange, saying, “I saw the Ocon incident in the past…”
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