Lewis Hamilton had the race win in the bag in Austria, but a strategy mistake and then a technical issue ruined his afternoon at the Red Bull Ring.
When Bottas went out on lap 14 after losing hydraulic pressure, Red Bull and Ferrari were quick to take advantage of the reduced pace on the track during the virtual safety vehicle period and got all their cars to the box for a tire swap.
The drama started early in the race when a virtual safety auto was deployed.
Daniel Ricciardo, the Dutchman's Red Bull team-mate, and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton were forced into emergency second pit stops yet Verstappen managed the soft tyres he took on at his only stop for 56 laps. And when he completed his unavoidable pit stop 10 laps later, he returned only in fourth place - on a track with limited possibilities for overtaking.
The next - and bigger - problem was tire wear.
"That whole thinking loop, I wouldn't say distracted us, but we spent too much time on that".
However, it got worse for the Brit, and the Mercedes team, as he retired to make it a double disappointment for the Silver Arrows.
"We can't afford to throw away points", said Lewis Hamilton after problems with Mercedes at the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria.
On lap 12, Nico Hulkenberg retired, his Renault engine spurting flames.
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"The team did not make the right decision right away", Lauda said, adding that "those two, three seconds made the difference" as the virtual safety auto period was already over by the next chance for Hamilton to enter the pit lane. "You can decide to stay out, but the guys on the pit wall - you have to put 100 per cent faith in them".
"He went a completely different way with the set-up and maybe in hindsight I should have gone that direction as well". I'm excited to try them on track.
"We've got to understand how we went wrong at both ends", he said.
"Everyone in the team is really feeling the pain today but I think you just have to look at it, we've had such great reliability for so many years and as painful as it is, and we are perfectionists, we really have to take the rough with the smooth".
In a critical error, Mercedes chose to keep race leader Lewis Hamilton out and their victory hopes quickly unravelled from there.
Max Verstappen duly obliged, as did Kimi Raikkonen with Hamilton joining the race just ahead of fierce rival Vettel.
Of his own early retirement, Bottas was equally disappointed. By Lap 14, however, Bottas started experiencing loss of hydraulic pressure and slowed down at Turn 4, warranting the need for a virtual safety vehicle (VSC).
"I needed to catch up with the points so today was a very good day for me", Verstappen said. "We need to find a bulletproof method to move forward for strategy because if our vehicle had kept going it was an easy win for us, we were comfortably ahead".