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Verstappen rages against ‘asshole’ rival, says format should be scrapped, after Red Bull sinks in GP sprint

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Max Verstappen has angrily sworn at rival Mercedes George Russell after a first-lap clash of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race tore a hole in the Formula One champion’s Red Bull.

The Dutch driver, who still finished third in a race won by Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez on Saturday, refused to drop the deal despite later retaking the place after a safety car was deployed.

“I don’t understand how he can keep the position when he damages my car,” he complained over the radio.

When the Dutchman regained the place, Verstappen was highly praised by the team for a ‘nice job, no contact too’.

Verstappen and Russell then exchanged words after the race, with TV microphones picking up Verstappen hinting at future revenge and calling Russell a ‘asshole’ as the Briton walked away.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“I respect all the drivers a lot and it’s also a bit of common sense what you do on the first lap,” Verstappen told Sky Sports.

“They (Mercedes) are behind and risking so much in the first lap is not very rewarding because I will have it in a few laps anyway.

“He said to me: ‘Yes, I have cold tyres’. We all have cold tires, that’s no excuse. I don’t like it when someone just has that “I didn’t do anything wrong” kind of reaction and walks away.

“I would try to fight but not run into someone, that’s not what you want to do. Maybe that’s something you also learn over time.

Russell, who finished fourth for a catch-up side after a disappointing start to the season so far dominated by Red Bull, defended separately and said he was there to fight.

“There were a lot of F’s and so on on his side,” he said.

“I was surprised he was so angry to be honest. He still finished the race in P3. He has enough experience to know that if you try to pass a guy on the outside, he there’s a chance the guy inside will hit you head-on.

“I don’t think anything would have been different if the positions had been reversed.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the hole in the bodywork cost Verstappen at least three-quarters of a second in lap time, leaving aside other complications with uncontrollable cooling.

“I think he voiced his opinion to George, it was probably a good idea that he (Russell) left his helmet,” he joked of the post-race exchange.

F1’s new autonomous sprint format had its fans on Saturday, but Verstappen was not one of them.

“Just throw it all away,” he said.

“I think it’s just important to get back to what we have, and make sure every team can fight for a win, that’s what we have to try and aim for and not try to set up. all that kind of artificial excitement.

“It’s not real racing, it’s more of a gamble. I think I will have more success in Vegas if I go to the casino. So yeah, I love racing, I’m a pure runner and I think it’s more for show.



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