Reigning World champion Lewis Hamilton described Sunday’s win in the Russian Grand Prix as “difficult” after he benefitted from team orders that saw Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas give way, allowing him to seal a victory that sent him 50 points clear in the Formula One drivers championship.
With third-placed Hamilton struggling with wearing tyres and championship contender Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari closing quickly, Mercedes controversially ordered second-placed Bottas to give way on lap 25.
Hamilton then assumed second spot and when leader Max Verstappen pitted on 43, the Brit dominated the remainder of the event to notch his third straight win of the season and eighth overall.
“It’s actually quite a difficult day. Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and he was a real gentleman to let me by,” Hamilton conceded afterwards.
“Obviously he’s not fighting for the championship, whereas we are. It’s just been such a great weekend for the team. The team have done such an exceptional job to have this advantage on Ferrari and to have a one-two.
“Usually you would be just elated, but I can understand how difficult it is for Valtteri but really he did a fantastic job today and he deserved to win. But championship-wise, as a team we are trying to win both championships and I think today it was a real team effort.”
He added: “Whilst it doesn’t feel spectacular, I know he is going to do great in the following races to come.”
Bottas, who started on pole, finished 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton while Vettel, who was third on the grid rounded out the podium.
The other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was fourth while Verstappen was a disappointing fifth after driving brilliant all race to improve on his start from the back of the grid.
Hamilton has 306 points and enters next weekend race in Suzuka armed with a significant advantage with just five races remaining in the season.