Lewis Hamilton maintained the Silver Arrows' 100 per cent winning record at the Sochi Autodrom, despite Mercedes' clear pace deficit to Ferrari across the weekend.
The Scuderia had schemed Sebastian Vettel from third on the grid to third in the race, dropping Hamilton out of the top two, but Ferrari's confused tactics preceded nightmarish luck as Vettel suffered an MGU-K failure shortly after pitting.
Leclerc had also stopped, with Ferrari on an offset strategy that would have seen them run longer into the race. When the VSC was called to help clear Vettel's car it gave Mercedes the chance to dive in, pit and emerge ahead of Leclerc.
Bottas said: "The car felt pretty decent, with the soft tyre in the corners, so I tried to maximize everything I could in the corners, trying to get a good sector three and a good exit out of the last corner.
"That way I could keep the position, but to be in that position, beforehand, I think the team did the right things.
"Already the decision to start on the mediums, allowing us to go long in the first stint and when you go long in the first stint you eventually start to go forward.
"Of course, the timing of the safety car came like a miracle, so that was good."
When racing resumed after a safety car, Bottas was a full second behind Hamilton in the span of a lap and, despite his position as the Brit's closest title rival, the Finn admitted keeping second, rather than fighting for first, was his task.
"I think at the point, we were on the similar tyre with Lewis, with the same car, so for me it was definitively the priority to keep Charles behind," added the Finn.
"So, I was trying to balance out, in the first few laps, to push hard enough to keep Charles behind and, at the same time, keep a little bit of margin to Lewis, because when you follow very close behind you obviously slide and destroy the tyres easily."
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