Following Mercedes’ controversial use of team orders at the Russian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton used the example of Michael Schumacher to point out that people only remember who won Formula One championships, not how they did it.
Hamilton extended his lead over Sebastian Vettel to 50 points by winning in Sochi, where the Ferrari driver finished third. That gap would have only been 43 points had Mercedes not swapped asked Valtteri Bottas to let Hamilton pass him for the lead on Lap 25.
In the aftermath, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he would rather be the “baddie” now than the “idiot” at the end of the season and talked about the “harsh realities” of fighting for and winning championships. Hamilton, who himself was uncomfortable with the call and considered handing the position back to Bottas at the end of the race, said he was also able to see the bigger picture.
“I felt very conflicted,” Hamilton told UOL Esporte after the race. “It did cross my mind and that’s what the tam wanted, they wanted to come away with ten points more. That was the ultimate goal, was to have ten points more rather than just the three or whatever. I felt conflicted because that’s what the team wanted and I knew that’s what we wanted, but I also knew what felt right.
“In winning championships people don’t remember the right and wrongs in a season, they remember who wins.
“You look at Michael Schumacher, he has seven world titles, he’s the greatest decorated driver, but was it always right decisions they made? Who knows, but I would say often quite smart decisions in winning and sealing constructors’ championships each year.”
The size of Hamilton’s championship lead means he does not have to win any of the remaining five races to seal a fifth world title. Fifty points is the equivalent of two race victories, meaning he looks set to wrap up the championship early if his current form continues.