Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain Grand Prix win is proof that the Italian constructor can take the battle to Mercedes throughout the 2017 season.
Vettel then had to fend off a late-race charge from Hamilton, who was chasing him down from 20 seconds adrift after a final pitstop that included a five-second penalty for the Mercedes driver for slowing Daniel Ricciardo at the pit entry under safety vehicle conditions. A fourth-place finish helps the team get two points ahead of the Mercedes but an early pitstop could have aided the senior Finn to the podium, a strategy perhaps Ferrari didn't prioritise on and similar to the last weekend in China. "I didn't know if I could catch Sebastian, but the penalty made it twice as hard".
Hamilton, who was penalised for a pit-lane incident by braking in front of Ricciardo when he slowed before stopping, congratulated Vettel and thanked Bottas, who moved over to let the Briton through in the closing laps.
Despite seeing Vettel make the best start to a season by a Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004, Raikkonen said it offers him not extra motivation. Seb and Lewis were putting pressure on and I couldn't control the race or build a gap.
"So yes I see the point, but still it's tough when you're on pole and trying to win a race".
This was a very tactical race, and Vettel made the correct calls. Kimi Raikkonen took fourth for Ferrari after a poor start ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was in the mix at the start but lost ground when he switched to soft tyres for the second stint.
Vettel completed the 57 laps of the 5.4-kilometer (3.4-mile) track in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 53 seconds, for his third win in Bahrain after success with Red Bull in 2012 and 2013.
With Bottas losing power in his rear tires, Vettel sensed it was the right time to pit for new tires on lap 11.
Ricciardo's Red Bull team-mate 19-year-old Max Verstappen crashed out of the action after a brakes failure. The incidents were coming fast, with 18-year-old Lance Stroll hit from the side on lap 13 by Carlos Sainz Jr. - forcing the safety auto to come out.
Hamilton came in with 15 laps left - and took his time penalty.
Both Mercedes drivers used the safety auto incident to pit for new tires, but Hamilton made the mistake of holding up Ricciardo.
Hamilton has won 54 races while Bottas, who was previously at Williams, has yet to triumph.
Mr. Hamilton chased Mr. Vettel all the way to the finished but could not make up for a penalty he suffered earlier in the race. There was more misery for McLaren after Stoffel Vandoorne failed to start while Fernando Alonso failed to finish.