Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said George Russell had “lots to learn” after the Mercedes junior driver clashed with Valtteri Bottas at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Russell, who is on a long-term development contract with Mercedes but currently drives for Williams, collided with Bottas while attempting to take ninth position from the Finn on lap 32 of the race.
The incident resulted in the two drivers crashing out of the grand prix and left them blaming each other for the extensive damage to both cars.
Russell is a candidate to replace Bottas at Mercedes next year, adding a subtext to the incident itself and the possible ramifications for the futures of both drivers.
Wolff said neither driver was 100 percent to blame, but believes Russell should have thought about his role in the Mercedes development programme before attempting a risky manoeuvre on a Mercedes factory car.
“There is never such a situation in life where one is 100 percent to blame and the other zero,” Wolff said.
“The whole situation should have never happened. Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps and should have never been in that position, but George should never have launched into this manoeuvre considering that the track was drying up — it meant taking risk and the other car in front of him was Mercedes.
“Any driver development, any young driver, must never lose this global perspective. Lots to learn for him I guess.
“You need to see that there is a Mercedes and it’s wet, so there is a certain risk to overtake and the odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up.
“I don’t want him to try to prove anything to us, because one thing I can say, knowing Valtteri for five years, is that he is not trying to prove anything.”
Russell believed Bottas squeezed him towards the edge of the track, hinting that the Mercedes driver treated him differently because of the threat he poses to the Finn’s future career.
“That’s bulls—,” Wolff said in response to Russell’s quotes. “The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest.”
Wolff went on to explain that the accident would prove particularly costly for Mercedes as the repairs to Bottas’ car, which may include a new chassis, would have to come out of budget assigned to performance development under F1’s new budget cap.
“It’s quite a big shunt. Our car is a write-off and in a cost-cap environment and that is certainly not what we needed because it’s probably going to limit the upgrades that we are able to do.
“Simply the fact that we ended there by losing it on the wet, because there was no contact before that, it was losing it on the wet, making both cars crash out is not what I expect to see.
“We are very stretched under the cost cap, and what we always feared was a total write-off of a car.
“This one is not going to be a total write-off but almost and that is not something that we wanted.”