So it’s an incident that probably has somehow both damaged and helped Bottas’ chances of keeping his seat, and it comes as Russell faced a similar scenario.
He dropped out in Q1 for the first time this season – a heck of a statistic given that car is regularly ninth quickest over a race distance – and had team-mate Nicholas Latifi close to him (within 0.1sec) for the first time in a long time.
You certainly can’t criticise Russell for not making the same gains Latifi did at Turn One given the chaos that unfolded, and it was admirable that he took to team radio to urge Williams to focus on scoring points with Latifi even if that meant sacrificing his own strategy.
“If you need to compromise my race to help Nicky, do it,” Russell said. “Prioritise Nicky.”
It was certainly a selfless call in the context of Williams’ race, but Russell is smart enough to know that it was also a message that will have registered at Mercedes, where maintaining the harmony Bottas provides is one of the key considerations when it comes to 2022.
Hungary didn’t show that Russell would offer a major improvement over Bottas.
But despite those positives, there’s still a very slight trend that Russell has yet to grab the big result when it’s on offer. It was Robert Kubica who scored the solitary point for Williams in 2019, chances slipped away from Russell in 2020 — most painfully at Imola — and again this year, where the same venue springs to mind.
For Latifi to then beat him to the bigger score in a race when Williams had a massive opportunity might just be a tiny nagging voice in Wolff’s head, because if nothing else Hungary didn’t provide certainty that Mercedes would get a major improvement in performance from Russell over Bottas.
I’m being ultra-critical with that take, but it’s clearly not a simple decision for Mercedes and every minute detail will be scrutinised. Similarly Red Bull will have been wanting to see what Sergio Perez had as a response to a poor couple of races, but it was robbed of that chance by the Turn One melee through no fault of his own.