Valtteri Bottas says he leaves the Russian Grand Prix knowing "I’m the winner" despite having to hand victory over to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton following team orders.

The Finnish driver produced a flawless Russian GP starting from pole position before regaining the lead once Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pitted midway through the race.

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But with Hamilton coming under pressure from Formula 1 world title rival Sebastian Vettel, with the British driver using up tyre life to overtake the Ferrari driver after he jumped ahead during the pit stops, controversial team orders followed requesting Bottas to let Hamilton into the lead.

Mercedes reasoned with the Finn that his teammate was suffering tyre blistering which would leave him exposed to Vettel and despite his disappointment at failing to record a first race win of the season he has still taken the mental boost of a victory.

“I know from this weekend I was supposed to win,” Bottas said. “I know myself I’m the winner of this weekend. I don’t have the trophy but that doesn’t matter, that’s how it is and I move on.

“For the end of the year it’s only Lewis fighting for the championship, I’m not, so 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 as a person but that’s a fact. The only thing that matters for me now, to keep me going to the end of the year is I know I was supposed to win. I could have won the race on equal terms.”

Bottas has also confirmed his ‘team player’ status for Mercedes but admits he’s keen to drawn the current campaign to a close after losing touch in the F1 world drivers’ title race.

“We are playing as a team and I am prepared to play as a team,” he said. “I took one for the team and that’s how it goes. But I am also looking forward to next year, starting a new year.”

Bottas moved up to third place in the F1 drivers’ standings, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, thanks to his runner-up finish in Russia.

The Mercedes driver will be mathematically out of title contention if he fails to score more than 17 points over Hamilton this weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix.

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