After the pair collided, Russell approached Bottas while he was still in the cockpit of his Mercedes and exchanged words with him, before slapping his helmet while the Finn stuck his middle finger up.
Russell, who is believed to be in contention for a 2022 Mercedes seat, later issued an apology on social media, and he has now said his “slap” was “nothing more than a brush.”
“Slap is a very strong word,” Russell said.
“It was nothing more than a brush. I doubt he even felt it. It was more of a ‘what are you doing?’
“I’m sure maybe a footballer would have reacted in a very different way but there was nothing menacing there. It was almost like throwing your arms in the air.”
Asked if he should have known better than to battle one of the works Mercedes cars so hard, as he has ties to the team, Russell said this matter never crossed his mind as Williams haven’t been in a position to race the Silver Arrows since he joined the F1 grid in 2019.
“Well, I’ve never been in a position where I’m fighting against a Mercedes,” Russell replied.
“Williams hasn’t been there in probably five years, so it hasn’t even crossed my mind how I would fight against a Mercedes.”
While the stewards put the collision down as a racing incident, the high-speed crash between Russell and Bottas at Tamburello prompted some harsh words from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest,” Wolff said in a post-race interview.
“It’s quite a big shunt. Our car is almost a write-off in a cost-cap environment, that is certainly not what we needed, and probably it’s going to limit upgrades that we’re able to do.
“Simply the fact that we ended there by losing it in the wet, because there was no contact, losing it on the wet, and making both cars crash out is not what I expect to see.
“The whole situation should have never happened, Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps, and shouldn’t have been there. But George should have never launched into this manoeuvre, considering that the track was drying up.
“It meant taking risks, and the other car is a Mercedes in front of him. In any driver’s development, for a young driver, you must never lose this global perspective.
“Now I don’t want him to try to prove anything to us, because one thing I can say since knowing Valtteri for five years, he’s not trying to prove anything. So yeah, lots to learn for him I guess,” the Austrian added.