‘Because he’s Max Verstappen in a Red Bull’: George Russell defiant after flare-up

Max Verstappen and George Russell made contact on lap one of the Azerbaijan Sprint race, with the RB19 taking damage to the sidepod.

Tensions have continued to rise between Max Verstappen and George Russell after the pair made contact in the opening stages of Saturday’s Azerbaijan Sprint race, causing damage to the Dutchman’s car.

Post-race, as Russell attempted to explain his actions, an angry Verstappen verbally abused the Mercedes driver in a clip caught on camera.

“I had no grip. I locked up,” Russell explained.

“Mate, we all have no grip. You have to leave a little space,” Verstappen replied.

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“Expect next the same, d*******,” the Dutchman added.

Russell continued his defence during the post-race interviews, noting his surprise at how frustrated Verstappen.

“I was on the inside. The position was already lost from him and I was really quite surprised he was still trying to hold it on the outside,” Russell told the media.

“Ever since we’re eight years old in go karting, if you’re on the inside at the apex, it’s your corner and if you try and hold it on the outside, you’re taking the risk.

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“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,” Russell continued.

Verstappen, on the other hand, was not willing to accept Russell’s explanation for the incident, continuing his criticism of the Mercedes driver when he spoke to the media.

“[Defending] is not allowed because ‘Princess George’ is there? At the end of the day, that’s his problem too,” Verstappen stated.x

“Everyone has their own opinion. But I think I gave him space and then he should also just take that corner normally.

“If you bump into each other with the wheels sometimes that can happen.

“That’s not ideal either, but if you [cause] a hole [for] someone else, that’s a bit more than just with the wheels against each other.”

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Despite the contact, Verstappen managed to pass Russell to retain P3 in the Sprint race, although he was unable to make up ground on Charles Leclerc, who finished in P2 after starting on pole.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez took the victory in the first Sprint race of the season, closing the gap between the Dutchman and Mexican in the Drivers’ Standings to just 13 points.

With the RB19 the strongest car on the grid this season, Verstappen is all too aware of the threat his teammate poses to his championship ambitions if he manages to secure results like that in the Sprint race more often,