Valtteri Bottas did as he was told and moved aside to let Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton win the Russian Grand Prix and surge 50 points clear in the Formula One championship yesterday with five races remaining.
Hamilton's closest rival Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari with Bottas, who started from pole position and was told to let Hamilton through after 25 of the 53 laps, securing the Mercedes one-two.
Asked if he would return the compliment to Bottas if, as is now expected, he wraps up the title with races to spare, Hamilton said: 'I'd have no problems with that.
To the absolute credit of Mercedes, they have avoided using team orders in their recent history, but with Vettel still in striking range of Hamilton, they adopted a change of tack here, denying Bottas his first win of 2018 and handing their star driver seven extra, and potentially, critical points.
World champion Hamilton gained 10 points on Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who was third in Russian Federation, to extend his advantage to 50 points, with five races to go of the 2018 campaign.
It was Hamilton's eighth win of the season and leads Vettel by 50 points in the race for the world title. He challenged to pass on the inside, but the German closed the door, forcing Hamilton to ease off and avoid hitting a wall. I think every one of us was facing this struggle between our head and our heart on Sunday.
This will leave three races for Bottas to potentially win, one of which is the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which he dominated a year ago.
Bottas, who remains without a win since topping the podium at last year's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, could not mask his obvious disappointment. I took one of the team today.
Yet Wolff simply saw it as a necessary evil that Bottas knows they may need to replicate in the final five races. For sure they also think about me, think about Lewis, as a driver, as a person, but they need to make a call to get the best outcome of the weekend.
After 12 laps Bottas was the first of the leaders to pit for new tyres with Vettel following him in a lap later, and Hamilton stopping at the end of lap 14.
"Red Bull has been building a great auto for years, but I often wonder if the management there is always making the right decisions".
Team chief Toto Wolff tried his best to console Bottas: "Valtteri this is Toto - a hard day for you, a hard day for us - let's get together and discuss it later", he said.
"What we discussed this morning was if he were in Lewis's situation, would he expect the team to work for him?" And this is why he came in a lap too late and lost position.