Hamilton said had he been fighting a driver from a different team, he would have taken more risks.
“It’s no secret that Valtteri wants to beat me and I want to beat him,” said Hamilton. “And that fighting spirit is stronger than anything, individually for all of us. I think it’s so vital though, to have a respect.
“I know how hard is it to get a pole here. He did a fantastic job [in qualifying], and I know how hard it is to wake up and deliver every weekend, as do these other drivers, so the respect is there between us. I think we want to race wheel-to-wheel and tough. When you’re racing with a teammate, it’s on a different level.
“If I were racing a Ferrari, you take more risks. Still respectful, but you can lean on them a bit more but as team mates, we sit down at the beginning of the race, we talk about Turn 1 and how we’re going to respect each other, make sure we don’t collide. And even when I overtook him and he was coming back, I could have swept across the front and blocked him – but that’s not the right thing to do.
“Ultimately it enabled him to get back past – but that’s racing. It was really fair, and it was great.”
Hamilton said his aggressive early charge came as a surprise to Bottas, who was expecting him to be preserving his tyres.
“Today I was supposed to start the race and save the tyres, and today I went flat out from the beginning, which was definitely not expected from everyone. Valtteri definitely didn’t expect it. The long runs, everyone else’s tyres were degrading massively, and I had the best long run on Friday of everyone.
“I’m sure everyone would have seen my data and been looking at how I saved the tyre, and tried to do the same, and I just did the opposite. I just went for it and risked it all basically trying to get past. We had a great, great battle, which was awesome. I hope we get to have more like that.”
Hamilton insisted that the safety car didn’t give him the victory, as his one-stop strategy would have played out in his favour
“I was going to do a one-stop, and he was on a two, so the safety car wouldn’t have made any difference. When he pitted on lap 16, I think it was, my plan was to offset as much as I could. I think I went four laps or something, and I probably could have done another lap or two.
“And at the time he was not catching me. He should have been catching me, but he wasn’t catching me, and I was keeping the gap generally the same.
“He came out of the pits seven tenths inside my window – and then it came to one [second], then one and a half, but it stayed around one and a half to two. If I’d done another lap it would have maybe got to two and half, and I would have come out on my fresh hards.
“And I could have just sat behind him if I wanted to, and he then he would have had to pit. So I would still have had that 21-second gap. So it didn’t really make a difference. Even though I was behind him I would have of course tried to overtake him, but in hindsight I didn’t need to.”