'He's very good at creating excuses' – Verstappen rages at Russell after collision in sprint race

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen raged at Mercedes driver George Russell after a sprint collision at Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku.

In a potential sign of things to come, Verstappen fumed at his Mercedes rival as the pair clashed in the race on Saturday.

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Russell and Verstappen were side by side for the first few corners, and when Russell chose to stay on the inside of Turn Two, Verstappen clipped the Briton when the Mercedes driver locked up.

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Many observers were quick to rule it a racing incident, as without the lock-up, Russell had left room for his opponent to stay on the outside, but with damage to his sidepod ahead of Sunday’s race, Verstappen was less sympathetic.

The Dutchman confronted Russell after the race, calling him a “****head,” prompting Russell to walk away from the world champion and deny it was his fault.

Speaking afterwards, Verstappen said: “I don’t understand why you need to take so much risk in lap one, understeer into my sidepod and create a big hole.”

In his post-match interview, it was put to Verstappen that Russell had claimed “it was his corner because he had the apex”, to which the Dutchman responded: “Yeah, he’s very good in explaining and creating excuses. I mean, everyone had cold tyres, and I think I had every right to be on the outside.

“I also didn’t really risk anything too much, I gave him enough space, you know, because I knew we were going side by side. But, you know, you need two guys to work together, you know, to make the corner – clearly he didn’t.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner took his driver’s side.

“Turn 2 was hard racing between two hard racers, the bit that for me felt a bit over the top was Turn 3,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“There’s contact there [at Turn 2], George is trying to leave him enough space, but it’s a very tight corner, that’s where I think the damage to the sidepod was done.

“For me it was what happened at the next corner that I think George just runs him too far into the wall there. Unfortunately, the result of it was we ended up with quite a lot of bodywork damage, a big hole in the sidepod, and that cost him quite a bit of performance.

“Difficult to quantify, but when you see a hole like that in the bodywork, it’s got to be three quarters of a second a lap at least, maybe more, and then there’s other complications, temperatures start going out of control because the air is not running through the sidepods as it’s designed to do.”

For his part, Russell said to Sky that, “If the roles were reversed I’m sure he would have done exactly the same.

“Yeah, it’s part of racing and we will move on, we’re big boys, and this is Formula 1.”

He added: “I’m not going to hold back because he’s leading the championship.”

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