Second placed Valtteri Bottas (right) and Mercedes' winner Lewis Hamilton talk after the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, September 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV
Second placed Valtteri Bottas (right) and Mercedes' winner Lewis Hamilton talk after the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, September 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

Sochi — Valtteri Bottas moved aside to let Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton win the Russian Grand Prix and surge 50 points clear in the Formula One championship on Sunday with five races left.

The victory was a landmark 70th for the Briton, well on his way to a fifth title and now 21 wins behind the record of 91 held by seven times champion Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s closest rival, Sebastian Vettel, finished third for Ferrari. Bottas, who led from pole position but was told to let Hamilton through after 25 of the 53 laps, secured the Mercedes one-two.

Mercedes remain unbeaten in Russia, Sunday being their fifth win in Sochi since the Olympic Park circuit appeared on the calendar in 2014.

Hamilton has now won eight races this season.

The Briton stayed in the car for some time after the finish. He then went to thank Bottas and commiserate. At the podium ceremonies, with Russian President Vladimir Putin doing the honours, Hamilton manoeuvred the Finn onto the top step alongside him. "It’s actually quite a difficult day," explained the Briton. "He was a real gentleman to let me by. Usually I’d be elated but I can understand how difficult it was for Valtteri."

The Finn, without a win this season, had asked the team over the radio, more in hope than expectation, whether the order might change back.

"Valtteri this is Toto. Difficult day for you and a difficult day for us," said team boss Toto Wolff, whose finger had been captured by the world television feed hovering over the "tactics" button before the order was given.

"Let’s discuss it afterwards when we come together and we’ll explain things."

Reuters