Vettel surged ahead of pole-sitter Hamilton from lights out to lead after turn one, but Mercedes flipped their strategy to take first place, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo claiming third - his best performance of the season.
"I didn't want him to win, I wanted to win, so I'm not entirely happy but at the same time I have nothing to complain or moan about as he drove past us on the track and they did a better job as a team".
Vettel had kept his lead, but Hamilton waited for a straightaway to blow past him on his faster tires and never looked back.
A virtual safety vehicle after Stoffel Vandoorme and Felipe Massa clashed gave Hamilton the chance to pit earlier than Vettel and close the gap, paving the way for a brilliant victory. Clearly, the move didn't work out well as Bottas clipped Raikkonen's rear, who bumped into Verstappen.
So he arrived back on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with high hopes to repeat his victory, especially given that his Red Bull team had spent the previous two weeks introducing upgrades to try and close the gap on title favorites Mercedes and Ferrari. However, Ferrari made a decision to pit the German earlier in the race.
Hamilton admitted he hit rock-bottom after the incident which left him 43 points adrift of Rosberg in the championship race.
The Mercedes driver's 55th career win was hard-fought and tense, with Ferrari's Vettel seizing the lead from Hamilton at the start and in the hunt all the way as the tyre strategies played out. Hamilton now started to clock lap times that were in close proximity to that of Vettel, despite the fact that the Mercedes was running on slower medium tyres. I tried to go around the outside as there was plenty of room there.
Hamilton recovered from losing the lead to Vettel at the start by reclaiming first place on track in a final-stint battle that included the pair banging wheels. The Briton managed to pull this off on the Catalunya circuit, where passing is exceptionally hard, makes it all the more interesting. His team mate Esteban Ocon finished fifth and Nico Hulkenberg from Renault has finished it in sixth spot. I don't know if we touched. It was also the tonic to a desperately disappointing previous outing in Sochi, where the 32-year-old struggled badly for pace all weekend and eventually finished a distant fourth. As announced earlier, the former world champion won't be racing in the Monaco GP that's scheduled next, given his maiden IndyCar 500 race.
It was a poor day for Williams, with Massa finishing in 13th and Stroll in 16th, and for McLaren it was worse still, with Alonso failing to shine in front of his home crowd and finishing 12th, and Vandoorne out on lap 34.
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