Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes that Max Verstappen‘s frustration with George Russell after the two drivers came together during the Azerbaijan GP Sprint Shootout is “understandable”.
Verstappen made his annoyance with Russell clear as the drivers clashed following the end of the session, with the Dutchman upset about a move the Mercedes made on the first lap of the race, which ended with the pair colliding and the Red Bull sustaining damage.
While the champion eventually reclaimed third place from Russell, he was unable to chase down Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second as the damage hampered his performance.
Speaking to the media after the race, Wolff said that while it was understandable Verstappen was aggrieved by the move, it was ultimately a racing incident.
“First of all, friendly exchanges between drivers is a good entertainment factor. So irrelevant. And yeah, that’s a race situation. You’re trying the outside. That’s never going to be an easy position,” Wolff said.
“They collided here to be cold in the car, and that certainly suboptimal 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 the situation between each other.”
“Races Lewis differently”
Verstappen indicated to Russell in their exchange after the session that he would remember the incident in future, and Wolff was asked whether he believes the Dutchman races against the Mercedes driver differently to other teams.
“You know, I think Max races Lewis differently. But between the same generation drivers, they’re all fierce. But it’s always been (like this), they know each other,” Wolff said.
“They had that situation, probably the first time, when they were 10. So, it’s racing. I don’t know if it’s 70/30, 60/40 or 50/50, but it’s going to be in that ballpark?”