But it was a poor strategy call by the team that left Hamilton fuming. Reflecting on the race, the four-time champion was impressed with Verstappen's performance given the difficulties many drivers faced with tyre blistering. "The auto has been great all weekend, we were quickest and we've had such great reliability for so many years".
History repeated itself for Hamilton as another strategy mistake cost him a potential victory at the season-opening Australian GP in March.
"Maybe we have an outside chance", Marko said.
And it looked like it will be a cruise until Lap 15 when Mercedes' race unraveled. And when he completed his unavoidable pit stop 10 laps later, he returned only in fourth place - on a track with limited possibilities for overtaking.
"People will hold up a hand when they have made a mistake knowing that the team's attitude to mistakes is that they are things that we learn from rather than throw blame around for".
"The strategy was not ideal", Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said.
"Are we going to have any consequential replacements of parts that might cause us sporting penalties?"
Instead the remarkable swing brought about by Valtteri Bottas' auto suffering gearbox failure and Hamilton's fuel pressure halting him, put Vettel top of the standings once more.
Wolff gave a detailed explanation after Sunday's race as to the team's thinking in the moments after the Virtual Safety Car phase was initiated to recover Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes after it pulled off the circuit with a hydraulics fault.
Vowles spoke to Lewis Hamilton, his words heard by millions of television viewers worldwide, after a tactical error dropped the Briton from first to fourth when a virtual safety auto was deployed. Red Bull benefited from their misfortune as Max Verstappen won their home race.
After reclaiming the lead of the drivers' championship, Vettel admits Ferrari is falling in back in terms of qualifying pace and says it needs to improve this area if it is to make the most of its impressive race pace.
Next up is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend.
Lauda, though, says the team will be keeping both drivers for next season. "With just the strategic mistake, we could still have got P4 or P5".
Merdeces' mistake meant Hamilton came out in fourth position after his first stop, which clearly annoyed him.
"This is exactly how motor racing can go". "This was a truly grueling day for us".