Lewis Hamilton says that he thought about handing first place back to Bottas towards the end of the race on Sunday. Mercedes intervened during the Russian Grand Prix, implementing team orders to ensure that Hamilton would win to boost his championship hopes.
Hamilton took the position off Bottas on lap 26, and went on to win the race. Bottas questioned whether he would be able to have the position back over the team radio, which was denied. However, Hamilton says that he did consider moving aside and letting the Finn back through.
"It crossed my mind and I was really thinking about it,” he said. “In the last 12 laps I was thinking ‘this feels so weird being in the lead’ and it just didn’t feel great. Budapest from last year was replying in my mind but I remember the team also saying the result we need this weekend.
"We need those 10 points, because if the car breaks down, or we lose two engines and we lose the championship by one or three points we would look back to this day and say we didn’t work as a team – which we are. That was their reasoning, as hard as it is to swallow.”
Hamilton said that he was not feeling spectacular after the race, and labelled the day as one of the strangest of his career: “It’s honestly the strangest day I can remember having in the sport, in my career to be honest,” Hamilton reported.
“It’s very odd to feel down but you also have to feel grateful for all the guys working back in the factory to make a 1-2 like this possible. We have to embrace this. It’s definitely a win on my list of wins that I’m least proud of.
“There are stronger heads in the team who are like ‘we have to win’. It’s about winning both championships and they don’t care how, it doesn’t matter who is ahead. Ultimately it’s really important to acknowledge Valtteri. He was just the ultimate gentleman.
"As racing drivers we exist to win, and if we don’t, it’s like you’ve taken our air away, taken our life away - it’s that deep. I would never wish it upon someone else and I would never ask for it from someone else ever. I made sure when we were in the meeting before with Toto and the guys I was like ‘this is not how I want to win’. But today he was an incredible gentleman and the team took the decision.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing