George Russell says Max Verstappen did not apologize for calling him a “d——-” in Baku last weekend. But the British driver said the incident was “behind him” and he certainly wouldn’t change his driving style to accommodate Red Bull’s double world champion.
Verstappen was furious when Russell hit his lap as the pair scrambled for position at the start of the sprint race in Azerbaijan last Saturday. Russell managed to get past the Red Bull, which left Verstappen with a big hole in him, putting his race in jeopardy.
The Dutchman came back to finish second behind team-mate Sergio Perez, but he angrily confronted Russell afterwards, telling the Mercedes driver he should have known his tires would be cold so early in the race that it would leave more room accordingly. Verstappen was heard calling Russell a “d——-” and later referred to the Mercedes driver as a “princess” while speaking to Dutch reporters.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Miami race on Thursday, Russell said the incident was over as far as he was concerned. “From my point of view, it was quite simple. I went to move, made the move and moved on. Of course, he was quite upset about it. But that’s racing. These things happen. We are all here to fight.”
Russell said there was “no air to clear” between them and it didn’t affect their relationship.
“I’ll welcome him and say hello to him if he’s successful, and I’m sure we’ll shake hands when we run into each other,” he said. “For me it is now history. It is behind us. So yes, my views on it are still the same. I still respect him. I still think he’s a great driver. And of course, things are always said in the heat of the moment. But yes, we move on.”
The 2023 Miami Grand Prix weekend runs from Friday 5th May to Sunday 7th May.
What time do the sessions start?
Friday, May 5
All times British Summer Time
Exercise 1: 7.30 p.m
Exercise 2: 11 p.m
Saturday, May 6
Exercise 3: 5.30 p.m
Eligible: 9 p.m
Sunday, May 7
Race: 8.30 p.m
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports F1 has almost exclusive rights to live coverage in the UK this year and indeed for the next few with their usual top team.
Sky’s qualifying coverage starts at 8pm on Saturday with their full race coverage from 7pm on Sunday.
Due to the time difference, Channel 4’s qualifying highlights are at 8.30am on Sunday morning and the slightly shorter race highlights at 1.25am on Monday morning.
What is the latest news?
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff called last weekend’s race in Azerbaijan “boring” and said F1 needed to look at what it could do to allow more overtaking.
Russell, director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said one simple solution would be to lengthen the DRS belts, adding that he could not understand why they were shortened in Baku without consulting the drivers.
“None of us were consulted about it or had our input on it,” he said. “And I think, you know, the race speaks for itself in Baku. So, yeah, I don’t know if we’re going to keep it the same for this weekend. DRS is there to help overtake.”
The British driver added that the dream was “to be able to fight like we did in go-karts when there was no aerodynamics”.
“Sure, we are going to talk to the FIA and F1 about this, because we want to be able to race,” he said. “We want to be able to fight like we all did in go-karts where there was no aerodynamics for that. That’s the ultimate dream.”
“I think our sport has been successful with the introduction of these new cars, but we have to take it to the next level now.”
Another solution that could be floated in some quarters, including former driver Karun Chandhok, is to make it mandatory for teams to use all three tire compounds in a race, which would force drivers to make at least two stops and mix race strategies. “Less management, more smooth racing,” tweeted Chandhok.
What do we know about Miami International Autodrome?
Circuit length: 5.412km
First grand prix: 2022
Race length: 308.326km
2022 winner: Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Race lap record: 1:31.361 (Max Verstappen, 2022)
Number of corners: 19
Chances of overtaking: It wasn’t the easiest track to get on at last year’s race, but it’s a good chance to pass with the help of the DRS in turn as that’s where Verstappen was ahead of Charles Leclerc. The same can be said for the long run down into the tight left hander at turn 17.
What are the current positions?
Drivers: top 10
What are the latest options?
Max Verstappen 4/9
Sergio Perez 3/1
Charles Leclerc 12/1
Fernando Alonso 14/1
Lewis Hamilton 25/1
Carlos Sainz 33/1
George Russell 40/1