• IN WORDS: Lewis & Valtteri's Russia Debrief

Lewis and Valtteri decode a tricky weekend in Russia...

'I am prepared to play as a team'

It was a deflating result for Valtteri, after such a strong showing all weekend, but he understood why the call was made and knows he had the pace to win.

"Honestly, I already understand the situation," he said. "If you put yourself in the team leader's shoes, for them it doesn't matter if it is me or Lewis winning, as long as we are 1-2 we get the maximum points.

"For the end of the year, it's only Lewis fighting for the Championship. I am not. So, for the team, it is always better that Lewis wins. That's how it goes.

"We are playing as a team and I am prepared to play as a team. I took one for the team today [Sunday], I will take one for the team tomorrow.

"It is not ideal for me as an athlete and a person, but that is a fact. The only thing that matters for me now to keep me going to the end of the year is I know that today [Sunday], I was supposed to win, and I could've won the race on equal terms."

'It is hard to find the right words'

It proved to be a bittersweet day for Lewis and the team, taking a dominant 1-2 finish, but not in the style we'd have liked to.

"When I got the call that they had said that to Valtteri, I don't know if you had heard me, but I just said, 'just tell him to speed up'," he admitted.

"Because I had Sebastian on my tail and he was getting quite close. Naturally, passing him in that instant in Turn 13 didn't feel good.

"I didn't know what was planned for the end, I was waiting to get some news. But, I knew the team wanted it to end that way, if they had made that call. Honestly, it is very hard to find the right words.

"It's a very strange feeling. We have had a 1-2, we have dominated as a team this weekend, the team has done an incredible job.

"It's obviously never, ever in my whole life how I've wanted to win a race. So, I just want to shine it onto Valtteri, there are not many team-mates who would do something like that."

'They need to make the calls'

While Valtteri was surprised by the message over the radio, he knows that it is not an easy decision to make and that he reminded the team of what he is capable of.

"It was quite surprising," the Finn said. "I think the team was worried with the blister Lewis had, that he would lose second place to Sebastian. That wouldn't be ideal for both Championships.

"I think that was the worry. In the end it proved to be not that bad but if you put yourself in the shoes of Toto or any team leader it is not easy to decide those things.

"I'm sure they also think about me, they think about Lewis as a driver, as a person, but they need to make the calls to get the best out of the weekend.

"It is just the way the season has gone into this situation. It happened because of many races before.

"It's a shame I haven't won a race this season and obviously today [Sunday] there was a possibility. But, like I said, for me the main thing is to remind them how the performance was this weekend."

'I've got to take the opportunity now'

After Lewis emerged from his pit stop behind Sebastian Vettel, he knew he had to make his move quickly in order to reclaim the place. What followed was a feisty scrap for second.

"Well, naturally I was trying to win the race from the start and I was quite close with Valtteri and then he pitted," Lewis explained. "Then I had a good lap once I got past.

"I held on to my tyres a little bit longer than Valtteri potentially. He said he had a bit of graining, so that next lap was good and then they kept me out for another lap which I think was probably not the right decision to make in the end as the tyres dropped off.

"Sebastian came in the lap before, undercut massively and I lost six tenths or so, once I caught the Williams it may have been. So, I lost whatever time I gained there. It was very risky and for sure it was quite frustrating when I came out behind both of them.

"I actually thought I was maybe potentially fighting Valtteri but I was fighting both of them and losing position - that's definitely frustrating.

"I had grip in the tyres and I've got to take the opportunity now to race with him which I did. And then I slipstreamed down to Turn 1, and I pulled out. 

"From my view, Sebastian moved and then moved again and at the time, if I didn't brake, I would have been in the wall and we would have crashed. But, anyway, luckily I got away with it and I was quite forceful in the next corner."