Former F1 racer Jacques Villeneuve has said he doesn’t understand why Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff criticised George Russell for trying to overtake Valtteri Bottas at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The pair collided as Russell had a run on Bottas down the start-finish straight and tried to overtake him on the approach to Tamburello.
Wolff was quick to suggest that the Williams driver should have known better than to try a risky move on a Mercedes, as he has ties to the Silver Arrows and could be driving for the team as early as next season.
However, Villeneuve has indicated that he believes Bottas was to blame for the incident and questioned why a Mercedes was fighting with a Williams in the first place.
“I don’t quite understand Toto Wolff,” Villeneuve said.
“Why does he blame the young Brit in the collision with Mercedes junior Russell?
“Bottas knew exactly that his potential successor was about to overtake him and risked a serious accident with his short move to the right.
“He mustn’t do that under these difficult track conditions.
“But this shows how tense Bottas is already in the second race of the season. And that’s not going to get any better. Because he is simply too slow.
“If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have had to defend his position so over-hard against a Williams,” the 1997 F1 World Champion added.
After initially blaming Bottas for the crash and asking him if he had tried to kill both of them, Russell issued an apology to the Finn on social media.
“Yesterday wasn’t my proudest day,” Russell wrote earlier this week.
“I knew it would be one of our best opportunities to score points this season and, when those points matter as much as they do to us right now, sometimes you take risks.
“It didn’t pay off and I have to take responsibility for that. Having had time to reflect on what happened afterwards, I know I should have handled the whole situation better.
“Emotions can run high in the heat of the moment and yesterday mine got the better of me. I apologise to Valtteri, to my team and to anyone who felt let down by my actions.
“That’s not who I am and I expect more from myself, as I know others expect more from me.
“I’ve learned some tough lessons this weekend and will come out of this a better driver and a better person for the experience.
“Now it’s full focus on Portugal and a chance to show what I’m really about. Thanks for all the messages, both positive and negative. They will all help me to grow,” he added.