An ecstatic Hamilton, who cut Rosberg’s lead in the championship from 43 points to 24, started third on the grid but went past his slower team-mate after the German was instructed to let him by.
Hamilton said: “I came here today thinking: ‘I have just got to go and do it,’ because no one is going to give it to me. I didn’t know whether I could win, but knowing that it would rain opened up the window of opportunity. I thought Nico had a problem. I knew when I was behind him that I was much, much quicker than him. I was also conscious that none of us are going to win this race if I am stuck behind.
“When the team ask you to push and you are not able to and it is hindering the team’s chance of winning we have that agreement. I said thanks for being a gentleman.”
Rosberg, asked if it was a painful decision to give way to his only serious title rival, said: “It was more painful the feeling that I had in the car. That was the worst. Around Monaco, that’s not a nice feeling to have. I had no confidence at all. The second thing [team order] was just a consequence of that.”
A relieved Toto Wolff, the Mercedes motorsport director, said: “If I wore a red cap like Niki Lauda I would take it off to Nico. He gave up his place and understood our global position, and that showed a great sense of team work.
“These last couple of weeks have strengthened Lewis and our relationship. This is just what the doctor ordered. He needed that win, we needed that win. We told Nico to up the pace and if not let Lewis by. Then we gave him the call of letting him by and he did it immediately. Not one single question. For Nico it was a messy day. All his bad luck came in one race.”
A bitterly disappointed Daniel Ricciardo, who was robbed of a victory because of a bad Red Bull pit-stop after starting on pole, said: “Two weekends in a row now I’ve been screwed. It sucks. It hurts. We had the speed in the wet. At the start we pulled away, pitted for inters, and we put ourselves in a race with Lewis which we didn’t need to be in.
“I felt I was the quickest in all conditions, but again, second place doesn’t show much for it. I don’t like being up here being miserable – when it happens two races in a row, it’s hard not to be.”
In the previous race, in Barcelona this month, Ricciardo was upset because in order to “cover” Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel he was placed on a three-stop strategy – his team-mate Max Verstappen won the race with a two-stopper.
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