As he fought for the title with Nico Rosberg in the Abu Dhabi finale last November, the triple world champion controversially ignored team instructions.
But in Bahrain recently, his new teammate Valtteri Bottas accepted an order to move aside for the faster silver car.
Hamilton says that was the right call, especially in the new close battle in 2017 with Ferrari.
“Our approach is that the team needs to win. So we have to work as a team but only in special circumstances. Our job description is to win for the team, not for ourselves.
“We want to finish ahead of Ferrari this year and to do that we have to work as a team more than ever,” he added.
Finn Bottas, however, denied in Russia that he is now effectively the ‘de fact’ number 2, and his Ferrari counterpart Kimi Raikkonen said the same.
But unlike Hamilton, championship leader Sebastian Vettel denied that Ferrari needs to think about team orders yet.
“It’s the fourth race,” said the German, “so I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about team orders.
“Are we satisfied with our start? Yes. But have we achieved something? No. So we have to keep going.”
Indeed, Vettel has won two of the three races so far, but he thinks Mercedes is the clear favourite this weekend at Sochi.
“On paper and historically it’s a very good track for them,” he said.