Sebastian Vettel still believes in slim championship hopes

Bottas doesn't want favor returned by Mercedes

With teammate and pole sitter Valtteri Bottas second behind Max Verstappen, the Finn was given team orders over the radio to allow Hamilton, who leads the drivers' standings, to pass halfway through Sunday's race.

The win in Sochi moves Hamilton 50 points clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers' championship, as the Mercedes man seeks a second consecutive title and fifth in total. "I don't think he needs to do that".

Bottas was the first of the frontrunners to head into the pits on lap 12 and was followed by Vettel on the next lap.

Wolff said that was the rationale behind the order, with Bottas not a title contender, to defend the champion from the risk of being caught and losing points.

"If it goes well, we will know that, despite the hard situation in terms of the classification, we still have the right tools with which to fight all the way to the very end", the Italian said.

Kimi Raikkonen can expect an emotional reception from his legion of Japanese fans in his final Suzuka race for Ferrari after learning last month that the team would not be retaining his services for 2019.

Wolff said he had also spent a sleepless night, mindful of the global controversy triggered when Ferrari ordered Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to cede the lead to team mate Michael Schumacher in Austria in 2002.

"If it's a third we can get, or a win, you need to get those places to make sure that we do everything [possible]".

Wolff later told reporters he took full responsibility for the decision and would rather be the bad guy in Russian Federation than the idiot, should misfortune strike in coming races, at the end of the season.

Another cameo from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff who consoles and tells Bottas they will discuss the team's decision to use team orders shortly after the race.

Sebastian Vettel believes that Mercedes have been downplaying the potential of their own auto in order to make it seem like the team is closer to Ferrari, thus making their dominance seem more impressive, saying the gap between vehicle and his Ferrari is "not nice".

Meanwhile Hamilton insists he never asked for Bottas to move over, saying passing his team-mate in that manner didn't feel good.

Bottas had stopped first in the race, with Vettel following a lap later. "Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and was an absolute gentleman to let me by..." Ferrari's Vettel was third.

"But then I think I've been way more realistic about the gaps in general and the performance between the cars".

At the start, Bottas led Hamilton into turn 1 with Vettel right on his tail. "Rationally it was the right call".

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