Brawn says Bottas left Russell with 'nowhere to go'

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Ross Brawn says the crash between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell in the Emilia Romagna GP is a tricky one to call, but F1's director of motorsport nevertheless believes the Mercedes driver left his rival with "nowhere to go".

Bottas and Russell made contact halfway through Sunday's race when the latter attempted to pass the former as the pair barreled down at full speed towards Tamburello.

Russell positioned his car on the damp part of the track, lost control and spun into Bottas, a move that sent both cars into the barriers and spread a field of debris across the track, forcing the race to be halted.

Russell and Bottas mutually blamed each other for the costly run-in while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff felt the Williams charger had not properly assessed the risk associated with his move.

Judging the incident in his Monday debrief, Brawn was first and foremost relieved that both drivers escaped the wreck unscathed.

"There will no doubt be an intense post-mortem of the accident between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell," said Brawn.

"The positive thing is that both drivers escaped unhurt, and the cars held up on impact to show how far we’ve come regarding the safety standards.

"Imola is quite a narrow track so there’s not much space. When you add wet grass either side from the rain, it becomes very, very tricky.

"I’m sure both drivers will analyse the incident and learn from it but it did look like Valtteri drifted across and left George nowhere to go."

Brawn also offered his view on the first corner tussle between future race winner Max Verstappen and poleman Lewis Hamilton during which the Red Bull got his elbows out to gain an edge over his Mercedes rival.

"The fight into the first corner at the start, between him and Hamilton, was significant and set the tone for the race," added Brawn.

"I believe it was Max’s corner. He had the line, he had the place on the track. Lewis in retrospect may wish he backed out of it, especially considering the conditions.

"He would have been mindful of Sergio Perez as well, who was just behind, in what was a Red Bull pincer movements of sorts – and he was clearly trying to look for space where neither could get to him.

"For Hamilton, it was one of those days that could count for a lot in a tight championship. He made a rare mistake but recovered well and is still leading the title race."

Based on the first two rounds of the 2021 F1 world championship, Brawn believes the fight this season between Verstappen and Hamilton has "all the hallmarks of a titanic battle".

"This is going to be a tough championship fight – which is fantastic for Formula 1," commented the Briton. "In Hamilton and Verstappen, you have two guys at very different stages of their careers, battling it out with cars that are very well matched.

"It has all the hallmarks of a titanic battle, not least because I don’t think teams will be able to throw a lot of resources at this year’s car with the 2022 car in the works.

"There is so much focus on 2022, as the regulations are changing so dramatically, that I think what we see now is what we will get all season. This could be a golden year."

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