Valtteri Bottas insists he is still allowed to win Formula 1 races this season despite Mercedes’ use of team orders to favour Lewis Hamilton in the Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes instructed Bottas to give up his position to teammate Hamilton at mid-distance in Sochi, enabling the Briton to claim his eighth victory of the season and move 50 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with five rounds to go in the title race.

But the Finn rubbished suggestions he would not be allowed to take his first win of the 2018 campaign win until after Hamilton has wrapped up the championship.

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“It’s not like that,” Bottas said ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. “I’m definitively still allowed to win but it will all depend on the situation.

“Honestly, I think that, last weekend, if Lewis didn’t have the blister, if he didn’t have that much pressure from Sebastian, maybe the team would have not done it. So, it will really be case by case.

“It can definitively can happen again but it will depend in the situation. The team told me that and that was also what I expected.”

Bottas is keen to ensure he ends up receiving the win bonus from Russia but said he is pleased by the way Mercedes handled its team orders policy in an open manner and believes it reflects the strength of the German manufacturer.

“I think from our point of view we cannot see the point of hiding it,” he explained. “This team, also because of its mentality, has been winning so much in the past and has very clear targets and how to achieve them.

“The team also wants to do everything it can to win those titles and that’s also why this team is so good. It’s not just in this kind of thing; we do the best we can do in every kind of thing and team orders like this is the name of the game.

“I just need to accept it now that I’m in this situation because of everything that has happened earlier in the season,” he added. “I cannot fight for the championship anymore, Lewis is, I’m a team player and I’m willing to help.

“I don’t like anything more than winning races and fighting for the championship – that’s what I want to do. And that will still be my ultimate goal for every weekend and I’m hoping that will still team happen.

"But I’m a team player as well and that’s what we do. We’re a strong team, we want to win both world championships and we work together, as a team, to do that.”

And Bottas stressed that events in Russia did not dent his confidence as it showed he has the performance at his disposal to beat Hamilton.

“Last weekend was actually very good for my confidence,” he said. “I feel like a winner, from last weekend, so I’m not going to let this kind of situation do anything negative for me.

“I try to turn it the other way around, I always want to take the positives and for me, in Russia, the positives were that I had the pace to be on pole position and I had the pace, in the race, to win it.

“That’s what matters to me and the team knows it as well.”

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