Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn believes Mercedes made the correct call in moving Valtteri Bottas aside so Lewis Hamilton could win the Russian Grand Prix and strengthen his title bid.

Mercedes instructed polesitter Bottas to allow his teammate past at mid-distance in Sochi, setting Hamilton up for a controversial victory that enabled the Briton to open up a 50-point advantage over title rival Sebastian Vettel.

But Brawn, who was a key figure in Ferrari’s dominance of the sport in the early 2000s – a period in which the Scuderia employed team orders on numerous occasions to support Michael Schumacher – backed his former team’s decision.

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"I reckon the German team's decision was the right one," Brawn explained. "The primary aim for a team is to get the best possible result for both championships, and that's what they did.

"I have found myself in this situation many times in the past and personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver."

Had Bottas - who was all but out of title contention heading into the race - gone on to claim his first victory of 2018, Hamilton’s points lead would have been 43 instead of 50, which now effectively provides him with a two-race buffer over Vettel with five rounds remaining.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he would rather be viewed as the “baddie” now than the “idiot” at the end of the year, arguing the team would have looked foolish not to take the chance to boost Hamilton’s hopes of securing a fifth world title.

Brawn agreed with Mercedes’ viewpoint, adding he was pleased to see the team be open in its approach after the race.

"In may not be easily accepted by the fans, nor look good for the sport, and that is where the team have to judge the circumstances and make their decision,” he said.

“I can understand Bottas' frustration, as he had a great weekend, demonstrating how well the Sochi track suits him, but team-orders are part of the sport.

"Also, it's always better to apply them in a transparent manner, rather than trying to hide it, something we have seen sometimes in the past, which raised accusations of deception."

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