There are always two sides to every story, and in circumstances like this – where the first lap incident between George Russell and Max Verstappen is entirely subject to opinion – it’s only right to listen to both. So, here is George Russell’s.
ICYMI, both George and Max had their elbows out on the first lap of the Azerbaijan Sprint race, and neither wanted to back out, causing a few sketchy moments and damage to Max’s car.
Verstappen was frustrated at the encounter and made sure Russell was aware afterwards. However, George was surprised by Max’s approach and recalled an angry post-race confrontation which saw Verstappen push Esteban Ocon during a tense exchange in the FIA garage.
The Verstappen vs Ocon incident followed a clash between the pair at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix, during which Ocon – who was trying to unlap himself – sent Verstappen into a spin, costing him the race lead.
When speaking to the media, including The Race, Russell said: “When he came over to me, I thought he was going to say ‘good battle’ and ‘nice fight’. I was very surprised how angry he was.
“From my side, his position was already lost. Ever since eight years old in go-karting, if you’re on the inside on the apex of a corner, it’s your corner. And if a driver’s trying to resist a position on the outside, they’re taking a huge risk.
“On lap one, on a street circuit, I was really quite shocked he was trying to hold the position. But equally, I’m here to fight, I’m here to win.
“I’m not just going to wave him by because he’s Max Verstappen in a Red Bull.”
He was asked to elaborate on what exactly Max said to him and whether he kept his helmet on for that reason. He responded: “There was a lot of f*cks and ‘what the f*ck’, I didn’t really hear much more than that.
“Yeah, I saw the Ocon incident in the past… But as I said, he’s leading the championship, it was a little bit surprising. From my side, I’ve got less to lose, I’m going go for it. It’s part of racing.”