Hamilton: ‘Win I am least proud of’
LEWIS Hamilton has admitted that Valtteri Bottas deserved to win the Russian GP instead of him, after Mercedes controversially used team orders to help the Englishman in the championship.
Bottas secured pole in Sochi and was in control of the race before Mercedes instructed him to let Hamilton through on Lap 26 as the championship leader came under pressure from Sebastian Vettel.
"Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and he was a real gentleman to let me by," Hamilton said. "He deserved to win."
Hamilton went on to claim victory and now leads his Ferrari title rival, who finished third behind Bottas, by 50 points in the standings with just five races remaining in 2018.
"It's the strangest day I can remember in the sport," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. "He was an incredible gentleman. The team took the decision. It's very weird to feel down.
"It's definitely the win on my list of wins that I am least proud of."
Hamilton reiterated in the press conference: "It doesn't feel great. I don't think I've ever finished first and feel the way I do right now. It's definitely a very conflicting feeling because naturally you want to extend the championship lead, but we are a team and there are two championships.
"I assured Valtteri it's not something I asked for, but it's what the team feels is right to do. It's a very awkward position to be in.
"There are not many teammates who would do something like that."
LEWIS: I DIDN'T WANT TO WIN LIKE THIS
Hamilton insisted he didn't want Mercedes to make the call, adding: "They said on the radio that Valtteri was going to let me through. I just told them to tell him to speed up because I had Sebastian on my tail."
Bottas was understandably downbeat as he missed out on his first victory of the season, admitting: "It's a difficult day. A good result for us as a team and we got maximum points but personally, it was quite a difficult race.
"We always go through all the scenarios, Lewis is fighting for the championship and we are fighting for the constructors', so we always have a plan - but it's always difficult to predict what's going to happen in the race. It is what it is."
Bottas later told Sky F1: "I already understand the situation. If you could put yourself in the team leaders' position, for them it doesn't matter if it's me or Lewis winning as long as we are one-two, we get maximum points.
"For the team it's always better that Lewis wins, that's how it goes. It's not ideal for me as an athlete or a person but that's a fact.
"I took one for the team today and I'd take one for the team tomorrow. But I'm also looking forward to starting a new year. I was supposed to win."
MERCEDES EXPLAIN BOTTAS CALL
"We are all racers at heart and what we want to see is out and out racing, let the quickest man win," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1.
"And then we are a bunch of rational guys and we discussed a bunch of things in the morning - and then everything is different in the race.
"We should be over the moon with a one and two and fundamentally we are, but it still went against Valtteri. It would have been a race win for him and we changed it.
"It's deflating for drivers, it's deflating for a team. But there's a harsh reality also that on such a day you can extend the lead by seven points more for a championship that has been very tough and very difficult at times.
"Valtteri is such a tremendous team player. Lewis was far back and we told him to switch positions at Turn 13 and he did it immediately. That's what you want to have within the team, to rely on those guys.
"This is what makes it feel even worse. But a win is a win, a one and two, we have 50 points advantage and that feels good."
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.