Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says contrite George Russell has lots to learn after crash

F1 George Russell apologizes
Hasan Bratic/picture alliance via Getty Images

IMOLA, Italy — As well as damaging his car, George Russell could have damaged his F1 Mercedes future Sunday after a high-speed crash with Valtteri Bottas at Imola led to an apology.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Russell still has “lots to learn.”

Russell, 23, is in his final season with Williams and has been tipped for a Mercedes seat in 2022, possibly as a replacement for Bottas.

Russell has been part of the Mercedes’ young driver program since 2017 but did his immediate future with the Formula One team no favors after a crash with Bottas on lap 34 of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. It caused the race to be red-flagged with debris from their cars scattered across the track.

Russell tweeted an apology for the incident Monday.

Both drivers were unable to continue and Wolff said he would be speaking to Russell about the incident.

“The whole situation should have never happened,” Wolff said. “Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps and shouldn’t have been there. But George should have never launched into this maneuver, 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. So yeah, lots to learn for him I guess.”

Wolff stressed that Russell should have handled the situation differently.

“You need to see that there is a Mercedes and it is wet, it bears a certain risk to overtake,” Wolff said. “And the odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up.”

Both drivers were furious in the aftermath with Bottas flicking his middle finger at Russell, who responded by swatting the Finnish driver with his hand.

“I couldn’t hear what he was saying,” Bottas said. “Obviously I had my helmet on. I couldn’t hear a thing so that’s that.

“From my side of it, it’s quite straightforward, I was obviously defending my position … he went for it and obviously lost it and hit me and it was game over.”

Russell said a number of factors had played a part, including the slippery conditions, but felt that Bottas had made a late movement toward him, breaking a driver’s code.

“I don’t see it that way at all. I didn’t make any sudden moves … and always left the space,” Bottas said. “From my side it was clean. Of course I’m defending, I’m not going to make any room for him but also when I race, I have respect, so I see it differently than him.”

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.