"It was not to give an advantage to a driver, to the other driver, merely as a team to try whatever we could".
"Let Sebastian by. Let Sebastian by", the team radio told Leclerc. "In the dirty air I couldn't follow", he told Sky Sports after the GP.
Sunday's race was over in the first 30 seconds.
Max Verstappen and Robert Kubica surprisingly spun in the formation lap before Hamilton had a brilliant start to pass Bottas.
Hamilton, the most successful driver by far around the 5.4-km Shanghai International Circuit with five wins to date, ended the day fourth. It was also the five-time and defending champion's 75th career victory, which moved him into the lead in the overall standings after three races. "I really had to be quite dynamic to change my natural driving style, shift it to a different way". "And after that it was kind of history".
Valtteri Bottas will line up ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid in Shanghai, with the two Ferraris just behind in third and fourth.
Bottas slotted into second place and their positions remained unchanged through to the chequered flag.
"We arrived here not knowing how we would measure against Ferrari - they were so quick in the last race".
Hamilton showed vintage racing two weeks after being gifted first place in Bahrain, when Ferrari's Charles Leclerc encountered late engine problems.
"The vehicle has been really good this weekend, and Lewis also improved a lot in qualifying, it was super close", said the Finn Bottas.
"It was a shame about the start".
"Good to get on the board, good to finish the race, we were looking for that for the last couple - obviously we'll take the positives from that", Ricciardo said.
"We, as a team, definitely didn't expect to have three one-twos, but now I'm proud to have been part of the work that everyone has done and to be a part of these results", added the Briton.
In China it was no different with Leclerc in third the team ordered him to let Sebastian Vettel through, he reluctantly obliged and he finished fifth, another desperately disappointing set of circumstances for the Monegasque.
"If you look at Leclerc and Vettel it's very similar".
The new Ferrari driver was clearly not happy, though, saying on the radio: "I'm pulling away".
The decision was in line with Ferrari's stated policy to favour Vettel in 50-50 situations, as re-confirmed by team boss Mattia Binotto earlier in the weekend.
Ferrari has had more flat-out speed than Mercedes in the early season, but China seems to have leveled the playing field.
"I mean, it's really not much of a moment", Hamilton said when asked about the significance.
"We were just not able to stick with Mercedes".