Having qualified six tenths down on the pole-sitting Bottas, Hamilton responded brilliantly off the line, out-launching the Finn, whose start was compromised somewhat by Sebastian Vettel's desperate attempt to go around the outside of both.
It was Ferrari's sole chance to make an impression on the leading pair and the Scuderia's response to the failure was bizarre.
Vettel had damaged his tyres in the move and held up Charles Leclerc for several laps before team orders were implemented to benefit the Monegasque for the first time this season.
As Leclerc tried to hunt down Verstappen for a podium, Ferrari took the questionable decision to pit him for hard tyres – flying in the face of every other driver on-track showing impressive pace on mediums and only serving to hold up Vettel later on, with team orders again required to organise the pair.
The chance to see if Ferrari had it right was taken away as Lando Norris and Lance Stroll collided 20 laps from the end, bringing out a safety car which allowed Leclerc to take mediums.
It was still not enough, however, as the 21-year-old could not take the fight to Vettel upon the restart after an achingly long neutralised period, holding off an improved Pierre Gasly in fifth.
Similarly, Vettel was unable to make Verstappen sweat for third place and Ferrari leave the Circuit de Catalunya with more questions than answers, having brought an engine upgrade ahead of schedule, only to suffer another trouncing at the hands of Mercedes, with Hamilton also taking the fastest lap extra point.
Kevin Magnussen took B class honours for a second time this season as Haas appeared to have solved their tyre conundrum, although Romain Grosjean threw away good points battling his team-mate late on. A tongue-lashing from Guenther Steiner may await.
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