The tires took another step down with 10 or 12 laps to go and they weren't getting any better.
"When they told me the pace of Valtteri at that time, I thought no way I could do that". Hamilton meanwhile came from ninth, after a five place grid penalty, to secure a record-equalling 27th successive points finish.
Both the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo also retired after the opening laps. But in running the Mercedes driver out of road, the duo made contact and Verstappen picked up a puncture. A Virtual Safety Car was called so the Red Bull could be recovered, cooling things down after a heated start. But that led to Bottas, who had better tire wear, threaten him for the latter part of the race.
The mechanic was knocked down and taken to the medical centre to be assessed in an incident which was not out of place during a chaotic race under the floodlights of the Sakhir circuit.
But Hamilton produced one of the moves of the race as he looked to move up the field.
"My thoughts are already on the world championship". Bottas pitted two laps later for mediums, allowing the German to build a wider gap of over 8 seconds with the help of fresh rubber.
Vettel led right from the start.
"We need to stay humble", he said.
Ferrari drafted Raikkonen into the pits at the end of Lap 35 to put him onto a set of Supersofts, hoping their added performance would give him the chance to jump Hamilton.
From 15th on the grid, the Red Bull driver had reached the top ten, but his luck ended when he banged wheels with Hamilton and punctured his left rear tyre. Raikkonen was forced to retire after the accident with his mechanic and Bottas started to reel in Vettel but the German lasted the distance.
In the wake of Kimi's botched second pit stop on lap 36, which retired the vehicle and hospitalized a mechanic, all of Ferrari's eggs were in Vettel's basket.
In the lead, Hamilton was 5.3 seconds clear of Vettel after 22 laps, an advantage trimmed to half a second by lap 25 with Bottas five seconds adrift in third.
"I was really just grateful after the [Verstappen] incident on the second lap that my vehicle wasn't broken so that I could continue".
Other drivers to have won their 200th race start include Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher, among others.
"I think I came on the radio with 10 laps to go and said I had everything under control".
"I was trying to get every lap and corner flawless to catch him but it was just not quite enough".
'I go when the light is green and I don't see what happens behind. That was the original plan but then we diverted obviously and tried to make the tyres last.
But in the end, Vettel prevailed, holding off the Finn to win his second F1 race in a row.
Red Bull suffered their first double DNF since Korea 2010. When they told me the pace of Valtteri at that time, there was no way I could match that.
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