Lewis Hamilton has picked out the decision to swap positions with Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas in Russia “one of the most difficult moments” of his fifth drivers’ championship victory.

Hamilton clinched the 2018 championship with two races to spare after finishing fourth at the Mexican Grand Prix at the end of October, becoming just the third five-time world champion in F1 history.

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Hamilton revealed after wrapping up the title in Mexico that one of the hardest moments of the year came in Russia, when he was waved past teammate Bottas in order to help pull out a bigger points lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.

“One of the most difficult moments of the year was in Russia for me. Being at the core of me, I want to win the race, by winning the race,” Hamilton said.

“Being let by in Russia was a horrible feeling, I would say. I think everyone in the team felt it. I think also for Valtteri it was not a great feeling.”

Bottas had led in Russia from pole position prior to Mercedes’ decision to swap the drivers around. The Finn is still yet to win a race this season.

Hamilton paid tribute to Bottas’ work ethic and role as a team player, talking up their partnership as teammates since the start of 2017.

“I see how hard he works, he sees how hard I work, we don't play games in between to try to throw off the guy. In actual fact, we work together,” Hamilton said.

“There are times where he’s figured something out in my set-up and he’ll tell me, and there are times that I can talk to him and be open. It’s the greatest partnership in terms of respect and teamwork from drivers that I’m sure has ever existed in Formula 1, probably.

“This year definitely there have been times when he has been fundamental in us winning races. Ultimately, the team don’t care which driver wins, so there are scenarios where he could have been up ahead and I’m the second driver, and I needed to play my role.

“If it comes to a point that you need someone to support, it’s Valtteri. This year, he started out really strong and then he had some really difficult races. I think Baku, for example, was a huge hit for him. He deserved that win and then he got that tyre blow up.

“I’m very, very grateful to him as a team-mate and for the help that he has given me in achieving this incredible dream so a big, big thank you to him."

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