A conflicted Lewis Hamilton admitted his win in the Russian Grand Prix “doesn’t feel great” and said he did not ask for teammate Valtteri Bottas to hand him victory.
Bottas led the race from pole position until after the first round of pit stops, when Hamilton had to overtake Sebastian Vettel and then was close behind the Finn as the top three ran within three seconds of each other. Mercedes then instructed Bottas to move out of Hamilton’s way, allowing the championship leader to lead home a one-two that extended his advantage over Vettel to 50 points with five races remaining.
“It doesn’t feel great, to be honest,” Hamilton said. “Not much more to say about it. As I said, I definitely don’t think I have ever finished first and felt the way I do right now.
“It’s definitely a very conflicting feeling because naturally you want to extend the championship lead and we are a team yet there’s two championships — a team championship and a drivers’ championship, so it’s quite a conflicting season and team effort. But Valtteri has done an exceptional job all weekend and did a great job with qualifying yesterday and you could see how happy I was for him there.
“We had a good close battle into Turn 1. I was as close as I could be, really, given the circumstances around this track. It was obviously a team call. There was obviously discussions before about what may or may not happen. I just made sure I said to Valtteri, I assured him it wasn’t something I asked for but it’s something the team feel that is right for us to do. It’s a very awkward position to be in.”
With Bottas being given an exact order regarding the corner and lap to let his teammate through, Hamilton says he waited to see if the team would want him to hand the position back later in the race but felt the call was final.
“They told me on the radio that Valtteri is going to let you go, which is not what I wanted and I just said, ‘Tell him to speed up,’ because I had Sebastian on my tail — it was getting quite close.
“Naturally passing him didn’t feel good in that instance, in Turn 13 and I don’t know what was planned for the end. I was waiting to get some news or something like that. I knew that the team wanted it to end that way, if they had make that call it confirmed to me they wanted it to end that way.
“But honestly it’s very very hard to find the right words. It’s a very strange feeling. We’ve had a 1-2, we’ve dominated as a team this weekend, the team has done an incredible job. It’s never ever in my whole life, ever been the way I wanted to win a race. I just wanted to shine onto Valtteri — there’s not many teammates that would do something like that.”