Mercedes using Bahrain test to understand 2017 Pirelli tyres - Hamilton
"Right from the first lap I felt the vehicle was there", Vettel said on the podium.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took his second win of the 2017 Formula 1 season at the Bahrain GP, allowing him to move to the head of the driver's championship standings after three races.
The Scuderia are re-energised amid new regulations in 2017 after years of struggling to compete with Red Bull and then Mercedes, much to the delight of the man at the very top.
"There were several factors that prevented us from doing more", he said. More importantly, however, we are now completely confident that our victory in Melbourne wasnt just a one-off and that we will be at the forefront of this world championship until the last (race).. But for now the team has done a really, really great job.. "I just wish with these cars we could follow closer so we could have done more together", he said.
A little help also came from strategy and a series of blunders by other drivers.
But he said he was not sure whether that it cost him victory in a race that he lost by 6.6 seconds and in which Vettel said he was measuring his pace once he was in front.
Hamilton slowed nearly to a crawl as he entered the pits with Ricciardo behind, resulting in the penalty from the marshalls, which he took at his second pit stop, rejoining in third spot. "It was on the last half of the out lap when all the fireworks were going off that I was like "I love what I do", he said.
"If you look at the 20 races past year, you could say there were a handful that were not ideal". Sainz was emerging from a pit stop and his Toro Rosso vehicle hit Stroll's Williams auto from the side on Lap 13, forcing both out of the race. The Finn was notably disconsolate after the race, which saw him claim his second podium finish.
Hamilton, now seven points adrift of Vettel, will return to the cockpit on Tuesday for the first of this week's two-day test in Bahrain.
It was the second win in three races for Vettel, but it could be argued the result would have been different if Hamilton hadn't got a five second penalty for holding up Daniel Ricciardo on the pit entry.
Vettel then chose to pit at the end of the tenth lap, allowing him to get out from behind Bottas.
"It is the small percentages now which is what racing should all be about", Hamilton added.
Hamilton came in with 15 laps left - and took his time penalty.
Twice Bottas let triple champion teammate Lewis Hamilton through to try and take on Vettel, an attempt that ultimately proved in vain as the Briton ended up second and Bottas third.