Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are braced for "one of the hardest races for us in some time" in Sunday's Bahrain GP. If (McLaren's) Fernando (Alonso) was in their auto, he would have got points for Red Bull.
Hamilton had been poised to win at Albert Park but a timing error on the Mercedes pit wall during a virtual safety auto period gifted the victory to his rival Vettel.
When Hamilton was asked about his comments during the mandatory post-race news conference, Vettel intervened.
Moderator: "I'll just apologise for any colourful language in Sebastian's answer there. It's not fair", said the German, who has had run-ins with Verstappen. "I mean, I don't know what Lewis did", he began.
"We've all been in that situation, we fight someone, we go sometimes wheel-to-wheel, it's close and you have a lot of adrenalin going".
'Do you think, comparing to football, if you have a microphone on a football player's mouth, that everything he says is a nice message when a guy tackles him and or fouls him? "I've lost two races now".
"'Ultimately, I had a coming together with Max and it was an unnecessary collision", said Hamilton. So we ended up touching.
"It may switch race to race but I can tell you it's going to be a bloody close championship".More news: Palestinian dies of wounds sustained by Israeli fire
He finished third under the floodlights as team-mate Valtteri Bottas took second place.
Apart from the few laps after his pit stop, Vettel led all the laps during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"I suppose he said he left room, but he didn't, if you look he was right out to the white line, and just didn't need to go there, because I'd already backed out".
The news late Friday came at the end of a frustrating day for Hamilton and Mercedes, with both of its drivers more than half a second slower than the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in practice.
'Sometimes I feel it's all a bit blown up and artificial if we have these questions, trying to make a story out of nothing.
The Mercedes driver escaped without damage, but Verstappen suffered a broken wheel and a puncture, while a differential failure caused his retirement.
The points were the first of the 22-year-old Frenchman's Formula One career in his seventh start. Who was wrong, or was it just a racing incident?