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Russell: I won't hold back because Verstappen is leading the championship

Russell: I won’t hold back just because Verstappen is leading the championship

Russell: I won't hold back because Verstappen is leading the championship

George Russell shrugged off Max Verstappen’s complaints after his move over him on the opening lap of the Sprint Race in Baku, insisting he would not hold back just because the Dutchman is the Championship leader.

Russell had a better start than Verstappen, and was soon fighting him hard for third place on the opening lap of the Sprint Race in Azerbaijan on Saturday, but the Briton understeered into the side of the Dutchman’s RB19 causing damage to its floor and body work.

Verstappen wasn’t happy with what went down, but soon overtook Russell after the Sprint restart following a Safety Car period caused by Yuki Tsunoda crashing into the wall at Turn 15, but the double Formula 1 Champion could not chase Charles Leclerc for second putting that down to his car damage, and reluctantly settling for third.

After the race Verstappen was seen having a tense chat with Russell, and later said in the post Sprint interviews:
“I just don’t understand why you need to take so much risk in lap one, understeer into my sidepod, create a hole. We all have cold tyres, it’s easy to lock up.

“His beautiful way of explaining ‘ah mate, you know locked up, ah look at the onboard’. It doesn’t make sense. There’s a hole in the sidepod, it doesn’t look that great, it is what it is now and we’ll focus on tomorrow,” the Red Bull driver added.

Russell: I am here to fight

Russell was adamant he did nothing wrong, and spoke of the incident to Sky Sports F1; he said: “I was down the inside and I think as a driver you know the risks when you’re on the outside.

“I’m here to fight, I’m here to win and I’m not going to hold back just because he’s leading the championship,” the Mercedes driver insisted.

“I was quite surprised he was still trying to hold it around the outside. It’s a street circuit and he has a lot more to lose than I have. None of the contact was intentional, I was doing my best to try and have a clean fight. I was quite surprised he was resistant to the position, I was on the inside.

“I was surprised why he was so angry to be honest,” the Briton went on. “He still finished the race in P3. He’s got enough experience to know that if you’re trying to overtake a guy on the outside there’s a risk the guy on the inside is going to run wide into you.

“I don’t think anything would’ve been any different had the positions been reversed,” Russell concluded.