Following a hard run of races which had led some to question the Briton's motivation, the world champion and his Mercedes team were simply unbeatable in Barcelona as he won by over 20 seconds from teammate Valtteri Bottas.
"I'm OK", he responded on the team's radio link. The team hoped Vettel was going to be faster than his opponents afterward, but it didn't work that way and he never challenged Verstappen for the final podium spot.
It was mostly status quo for the rest of the race, save for a few battles in the midfield. That's largely down to the tyres being two steps softer than in 2017, but also a reflection of the relentless development race in F1 - Hamilton's time was also a second quicker than the best lap in winter testing.More news: Boy returns to school after dad's death, 70 cops escort him
McLaren put a auto into Q3 for the first time this season with Fernando Alonso in eighth place. The rain threatened to return, with clouds hanging darker than the Catalan tarmac, and with the four race strong streak of safety cars both virtual and real, a monkey wrench looked certain to be thrown into the race's proceedings.
But Ferrari chose to stop for a second set of tyres is the last stint, a move which put Vettel down to fourth, and with Raikkonen out after his engine gave up the ghost it was a small points haul for Ferrari.
Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly were caught up in the chaos and could do nothing to avoid the Frenchman's careening vehicle. Riders of the German team left behind pilots "Ferrari" and "Red bull". Despite winning in Spain after one victory in the opening four grands prix previous year, it did not turn out to be the race that kick-started his season. Kevin Magnussen (Haas): +1 lap 7. Verstappen has good memories here, as he captured his first ever F1 win in Barcelona in 2016, while Ricciardo finished third at this race a year ago. Grosjean was punished with a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Monaco.
Fernando Alonso followed his compatriot home to take more points for McLaren in eighth place, having eventually worked his way past fast-starting Charles Leclerc at the post-VSC restart.More news: Tiger Woods shoots 65, his lowest score ever at Players
Vettel's second slow stop was not helped by Sergio Perez entering the pits at the same time for Force India, but he claimed: "It was my mistake".
Hamilton held his lead from lights out but Vettel made up a place on the drag race down to turn one passing Bottas for second. The Haas driver collected Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg in the process.
The Formula 1 Series continues its 2018 season on Sunday morning with the running of the Spanish Grand Prix.More news: Brooklyn Nine-Nine saved after outcry from fans over its cancellation
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