The action-packed Emilia Romagna Grand Prix bore witness to a massive crash between Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Williams driver George Russell. Following the collision, a small confrontation took place as Russell approached Bottas who was still sitting in his wrecked car. Unfortunately, the conflict did not end there. The war of words went on after the race as both drivers continued to point fingers.
Both cars were approaching turn 2 as they battled for P8 with the Mercedes in front. Russell got within DRS range and decided to make a move. However, he was spooked by a slight movement by the Mercedes, causing him to lose control as he went off the racing line for the overtake manoeuvre.
Russell then spun and took Bottas with him straight into the barriers. Team radio transmissions from both drivers made it clear that they thought the other was to blame. Russell got out of his car and approached Bottas and an unpleasant exchange was caught on camera. The words were not heard but Bottas was seen flipping the Williams driver off before the latter slammed his hand on top of Bottas' coockpit.
After the race, neither driver has changed his opinion on what caused the massive crash. "Between all the drivers we've had this gentleman's agreement where if there's a faster car approaching with the DRS you don't jolt the steering wheel at the very last moment," said Russell. "I got the slipstream, and just as I pulled out, Valtteri moved very slightly and that just put me off line and put me onto the wet stuff," he continued, clearly convinced that Bottas was at fault.
Bottas meanwhile, had a different take on the incident. "Obviously the track is quite narrow and there's only one dry line and he went from the outside. There was space all the time for two cars, but it didn't make any sense that move – he obviously lost it and hit me," he said.
Speaking about the confrontation, Bottas said: "I haven't spoken to him. I couldn't hear a thing he was on about [when Russell confronted him trackside]. I don't really get it. It was clearly his fault and I don't understand the rage."
Russell took things further by saying that Bottas might have behaved differently if he was being challenged by a different driver, one who is not threatening to take over his Mercedes seat. "It begs the question why he'd do that for P9, and perhaps if it was another driver he wouldn't have."
Despite the blame game, the stewards have decided that no disciplinary action was needed. However, the retirement was a massive blow for Bottas, who is already losing ground on his teammate Lewis Hamilton after just two races. Russell meanwhile, is still hoping to help Williams get out of the bottom of the pack.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen won the race, keeping the challenge alive as Lewis Hamilton attempts to secure an eighth driver's title this year.