Sebastian Vettel has won the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix from third place on the grid, with Lewis Hamilton in second and Valtteri Bottas in third. Personally, it is tough for me, but that's life.
Hamilton came in for a tyre change soon after and took his time penalty.
Tyre provider Pirelli have altered the dynamic of the product delivered to all F1 teams this season and the early indication is Ferrari have adapted better than Mercedes.
"The pit lane was my fault, so apologies to the team for losing the time there".
"We tried to maintain the order and not interfere in the running order because it's an bad call you need to make", Wolff added.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel's 2007 champion teammate who has yet to stand on the podium this season and not been on pole since 2008, slipped 34 points behind - half as many as the German. But despite being on fresher tyres, Hamilton could not catch up to the quadruple world champion and the Ferrari driver went on to record his second win of the year and saw himself move at the top of the drivers' championship. He'd get past Bottas, who was told to let his team-mate by, to take second place.
Mercedes by contrast completed 97 laps and Hamilton was fastest on the day at 1min 31.358sec ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi for Ferrari at 1min 31.984sec and Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull at 1m 32.349sec.
"But something inside me told me we had a good vehicle and we can do well so right from the first lap I felt the auto was there and the Easter hunt was on".
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists the team still believes in giving its drivers "equal opportunity" to race in 2017, though he admits it will have to consider team orders on a race-by-race basis now Ferrari is in the title fight.
"I'm really happy to come back like this, like I've never been away", he said.
Verstappen crashed out of the race on lap 12 with brake failure and as Vettel charged through the field, Mercedes were thrown a potential lifeline when Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Canadian rookie Lance Stroll of Williams collided at Turn One.
"I think in qualifying we may be slightly ahead, it depends on the circuit, but if we get an average from the last three races we are a bit better", Bottas said.
After exiting the pits, Hamilton reduced a 19.0-second gap with Vettel to just 5.8 seconds by the 54th lap.
"Then the safety auto came out, we put the softs on and that tyre was just not happening for us today".
The safety vehicle prompted many cars to pit including the two Mercedes who chose to stack their drivers. He then pitted from the lead to take Soft tires on Lap 10, getting the undercut on Bottas and Hamilton and reentering in 12th.