Team orders a bitter pill for Bottas to swallow but Mercedes in good health
Toto Wolff said claiming pole at the Russian Grand Prix was "just what the doctor ordered" for Valtteri Bottas, but the Mercedes team principal prescribed a bitter pill for the Finn to swallow in Sochi.
Bottas started at the front of the grid for the sixth time in his Formula One career after Hamilton made a mistake on his final lap in qualifying.
"I'm very pleased," Wolff said after Bottas topped the timesheets. "I think he needed to gain some confidence and that was just what the doctor ordered.
"I think he knows he needs to extract every little bit to beat Lewis. And when such a lap comes together, you're so pumped that the adrenaline wants to come out of your ears."
Bottas got off to a good start when the lights went out on Sunday at a track where he topped the podium last year.
There was to be no back-to-back victories in Russia for Bottas, though, after Wolff ordered him to let Hamilton through into second place behind Max Verstappen on lap 25, with title rival Sebastian Vettel behind the championship leader.
Hamilton went on to take the chequered flag ahead of Bottas after Verstappen finally pitted, with Vettel taking third.
Wolff had stated on Saturday that it would be difficult to tell Bottas "you're not allowed to race" and described himself as the "baddie" for implementing team orders, but said it was the right decision as Hamilton continues his quest for a fifth world title.
Bottas was clearly not impressed with the instructions after he climbed out of his car and Hamilton's celebrations were muted as he went over for a word with his colleague.
The Brit said the call from his team had left him feeling the most conflicted he has ever been in the sport, stating that he did not want to be allowed through.
Bottas reflected on a "difficult day", while Hamilton said he had "a very strange feeling" following his third win in a row.
Hamilton's victory clearly left a sour taste in the mouth and Wolff may have to dish out some medicine to Bottas, but looking at the bigger picture, Mercedes left Sochi in a very healthy position as they close in on yet more glory.