Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has explained that the Silver Arrows' lack of pace compared to Ferrari prompted their decision to impose team orders on Valtteri Bottas as he chased Lewis Hamilton for the German Grand Prix lead late in a chaotic Hockenheim race.
Amid swirling rain, that had caught out Vettel at the Sachs Curve, the safety car restart saw Bottas attacking Hamilton on fresher tyres, although he swiftly instructed to "hold position", with chief strategist James Vowles also apologising to the Finn.
Bottas was compliant, going on to follow Hamilton home for a one-two finish that puts Mercedes back to the top of the constructors' standings, with Hamilton having gone 17 points clear of Vettel in the drivers' championship.
Wolff said that the team's remaining uncertainty meant they could not risk a collision between their dirvers.
"First of all we didn't have the quickest car here and we need to progress for the next races because that is the most important," Wolff told Sky Sports.
"It was still raining at the time and the fight was so intense. There was all to lose with the bad luck that we had in the last races, and we wanted to keep it calm at that stage.
"All the bad luck that we have came back to us with tremendous good luck. And that makes me happy."
Bottas did not lash out at the decision after the race, understanding the team's need to bank the maximum points haul.
"We had a bit of a battle on lap one after the safety car with Lewis," he said. "I didn't get past then and they told me to minimise the risk, which I understand."
Hamilton's win was only confirmed two and a half hours after he crossed the line - stewards seeing fit to reprimand him for crossing te pit lane to remain on-track, avoiding a costly time penalty.