Lewis Hamilton is not getting carried away with his Formula One drivers' championship lead despite pulling 73 points clear with victory in Sochi.

The defending champion started from second at the Russian Grand Prix and looked set to be blown away by Ferrari as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc made superb starts.

But after Ferrari tried to manoeuvre a swap between their leading drivers, allowing pole-sitter Leclerc through, Vettel was forced to retire and Hamilton capitalised.

He pitted under the virtual safety car and came out in front of Leclerc, holding on from there for his first win in four.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second, is closest to him in the title race but another championship seems a formality, although Hamilton was trying not to think about it.

"Honestly, I try not to think too much about the championship," he said. "It's one race at a time, one step at a time.

"Collectively, that's what we've been working on. Obviously it gets harder as the season goes on.

"But it's one step at a time, one foot in front of another, obviously we don't want to stumble. We've got to keep on putting performances like this in."


Given Ferrari's three straight wins before this one, the victory felt extra sweet for Hamilton.

"It feels like a long time coming. It feels like the first time as well," he said. "That's why it feels special.

"It's an incredible job from all the guys here this weekend, not giving up, trying new things, pushing forward, always trying to be innovative. That makes me incredibly inspired.

"It's just incredible to have this result today considering how quick [Ferrari] were off the start. Just keeping up with them was an incredibly hard task.

"We hadn't given up, we keep pushing, so a big thank you to everyone here and back at the factory."

Bottas added: "Starting fourth and finishing second is not bad. It's not a win, but for the team, it's a big win. It's been a tough few races to get back to these sort of results."