Max Verstappen accused of pretending to be angry

Max Verstappen called George Russell a "di**head" on live TV following Saturday's Azerbaijan GP sprint race.

Russian Formula 1 commentator Alexey Popov believes Max Verstappen’s insult directed at George Russell on Saturday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was “psychological”, perhaps in anticipation of a fight in the future.

Verstappen and Russell were involved in one of the biggest talking points of the weekend at the Baku City Circuit, after the pair collided on the opening lap of the sprint race.

The duo lined-up on the second row and went side by side through the opening corner, which they got through cleanly.

However, the same couldn’t be said for Turn 2, as Russell locked-up on the inside of the reigning World Champion and under-steered into the side of him.

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The collision ripped a hole in Verstappen’s left sidepod and also caused floor damage to his RB19, much to the Dutchman’s anger.

Verstappen lost the position following the collision but did reclaim third a few laps later, although, this didn’t tame is fury.

Verstappen waited for Russell in parc ferme after the sprint and vented his anger at the Mercedes driver, who he went on to call a “di*khead” on live TV.

That wasn’t Verstappen’s only insult aimed at Russell, though, as he went on to call his fellow 25-year-old “Princess George” to Dutch print media.

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When asked about the insult, Russell didn’t really have much to say about it, apart from that he felt like Verstappen didn’t do wonders for “his reputation”.

“I don’t know what else to say about this,” Russell said on Sunday.

“It was a simple racing incident, of which there are many at the start. I don’t think he’s doing anything for his reputation by saying things like that in public.

“No, I don’t need an apology, but he is the leader of the world championship, a two-time champion, a great guy, great racer. I don’t know what else to say.”

Popov sees the situation slightly differently and wonders whether Verstappen was trying to map out “his territory” against Russell, given that the Dutchman will likely be battling the Briton for the title in the future.

“A strong racer immediately marks his territory, like predators in the wild,” Popov said.

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“Lewis (Hamilton) is on the decline, while Russell is coming up now and will be a serious contender as soon as the car is able. So I think Max is thinking ‘make him afraid of me’. It’s necessary to run into him so that he thinks next time.

“I do not excuse Russell in any way because he really was to blame for the contact. But it seems to me that Max was not as angry as he showed.

“I may be wrong, but it seems to me that there is an element of psychological struggle for the future.”