George Russell accepted his penalty for colliding with Max Verstappen during the Las Vegas Grand Prix, saying he did not realise his rival was trying to pass him.
The pair made contact at turn 12 as Verstappen tried to pass the Mercedes driver on the inside. Russell admitted he “just totally didn’t see him in the blind spot” as he turned in.
Russell said he didn’t even intend to put up a fight against Verstappen, as he was unlikely to keep the Red Bull behind, and he was focused on beating other drivers.
“I wasn’t expecting the overtake,” he said. “I wasn’t even really fighting him because we knew that Max wasn’t our race, we just had to keep our tyres alive.”
Although Russell only sustained light damage in the incident, the Safety Car was deployed due to the debris on the circuit, which compromised his race.
“The only piece of damage was the wheel cover, which if anything probably would have helped the graining by having that extra bit of cooling,” he said. “So if it wasn’t for the Safety Car I would have continued and would have gone onto the podium.
“So I don’t really know what to say really. Just really frustrated with today, with the season as a whole. Can’t really catch a break.”
He was given a five-second time penalty for the incident, which dropped him from fourth place to eighth in the final results. The stewards also gave him two penalty points on his licence, which puts him on a total of four.
“It was a comfortable podium just thrown away, once again,” said Russell. “So it’s, as a season, really disappointing. Very frustrating. And now heading into Abu Dhabi only a few points between us and Ferrari.”
The pair clashed earlier this year at the sprint race in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Verstappen strongly criticised his rival’s driving. But despite suffering front wing damage in the incident, Verstappen accepted his rival hadn’t intended to turn in on him.
“He didn’t do that on purpose,” said the Red Bull driver. “I think he just didn’t expect me to to pass him into that corner because that’s how it felt.
“I put it on on the inside and he just turned in like there was no one there. So I guess he just didn’t didn’t see me.”
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