Lewis Hamilton lost to Sebastian Vettel at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas grabbed his first ever pole on Saturday but struggled with his tyres and Sebastian Vettel managed to undercut him in the first pit-stop phase.
A safety car, brought out by a crash involving Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz, threatened to nullify Vettel's threat but Mercedes were forced to pit their two drivers at the same time.
In an effort to avoid waiting for too long, Lewis Hamilton slowed ahead of the pit entry and blocked Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, for which he was subsequently handed a five-second penalty.
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"The pit lane was my fault and so apologies to the team for losing the time there," Hamilton said.
"I tried my hardest to catch up but it was a long, long way to go – it was 19 seconds.
"I gave it everything I could but Ferrari did a great job today.
"We're going to push hard together, regather as a team and then come back fighting."
Hamilton appeared to back off as the possibility of victory faded to zero and finished more than five seconds behind the German.
However, he was quick to pay tribute to the Ferrari driver and his team-mate, who twice moved aside to let the quicker Brit through.
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Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both finished behind Sebastian Vettel
"Sebastian did a fantastic job today," Hamilton added.
"Thanks to Valtteri for being a gentleman out there.
"It was a very difficult race and it didn't start out the best.
"The disappointment is there and losing points for the team, particularly when you could have won the race, is definitely painful.
"But I'm getting old!"