Valtteri Bottas’ willingness to sacrifice his shot at victory in the Russian Grand Prix reflects the strength and unity of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, according to boss Toto Wolff.

Bottas was ordered to give up a position to enable teammate Lewis Hamilton to claim a controversial win in Sochi and further strengthen his aspirations of claiming a fifth drivers’ world title.

The victory moved Hamilton 50 points clear of chief title rival Sebastian Vettel in the championship standings – instead of the 43 point-lead he would have held had he finished second.

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“The true strength of a team reveals itself in what individuals are prepared to sacrifice for the group,” Wolff said.

“Valtteri was willing to sacrifice his win in Sochi to help protect our 1-2 and extend our lead in both championships - and he said he'd be prepared to do the same again tomorrow.

“That tells you everything you need to know about the quality and integrity of his character. Valtteri proved in Sochi that he is a race-winning Grand Prix driver: he put it on pole, controlled the race and had the pace to win.

“And he also showed that he is a great team player when we need him to be in the final stages of the season.”

Wolff reiterated the difficulty Mercedes faced in making the call to use team orders, adding it presented a “struggle between our head and our heart”.

“It wasn't an easy call to make even though it was the right one for the points situation,” he explained.

“I think every one of us was facing this struggle between our head and our heart on Sunday, but there is no hard-and-fast rule or matrix you can apply.

“Each call has its own context and we may face more tough moments before the year is over. But we will handle each one on its merits and face them together, as a strong team.”

And Wolff said Mercedes cannot take its advantage in both world championships for granted in the final five rounds, insisting the fight for supremacy in 2018 is far from over.

“In the end we left Sochi with a bigger lead in both championships. But we know that doesn't mean anything because our fight with Ferrari is far from being over,” he stressed.

“We can take nothing for granted and we will stay at maximum attack on every front in the next races. The battle with Ferrari remains extremely close, as was underlined by Sebastian's pace on Sunday and the pressure he put us under.

“Lewis was in Brackley this week and is hungry, focussed and completely determined to succeed: it has been great to see the power he has brought to this championship, and how he has taken it to the next level since the summer break.

Suzuka will be another challenging weekend for us - we will need the very best from our team, our car and our drivers to come out on top.”

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