Vettel was handed a gift early on in the first-lap from his own team mate Kimi Raikkonen, as the Ferrari driver span out Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who was in pole position. "I deserve it, I took the 10 seconds and got fighting".
The German finished 2.264 seconds ahead of Hamilton for his fourth win of the season, denying Hamilton what would have been a fifth straight win in his home race.
'For me, the whole-build up, the intensity, and knowing how close we all were, makes this feel like one of the best laps I have been able to produce, ' he said. We'll take it on the chin and keep pushing hard, because believe me I will not give up. Unexpectedly, Ricciardo made a second stop after 31 laps, lifting Hamilton to fifth as the Australian rejoined sixth, but on softs.
The Frenchman's chassis would have to be repaired, and he would play no further part in practice.
Hamilton started in pole position but Vettel streaked ahead and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen compounded Hamilton's misfortune when he bumped into him, sending the British driver off the track and leaving him last.
Bottas would assume the lead from Vettel, with Hamilton now third.
Haas meanwhile continued their recent purple-patch of form as the team locks-out the fourth row, Kevin Magnussen beating Romain Grosjean to seventh, while Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten.
The second session began without Romain Grosjean, whose Haas vehicle had not been repaired in time following his crash in the morning.
Hamilton was sent spinning round, and suddenly he found himself down in 18th and with it all to do.
"Other than that mistake I think the pace was good". And then afterwards I was just...
"The rear of the vehicle was moving around a lot, particularly with the left-handers and obviously I had been hit on the right".
"[In the race] it wasn't necessary, I had a good feeling and the race was no problem".
"We want the guy that scores the tries and wins the trophies so I embrace high maintenance".
The reigning world champion produced a superb fightback after being turned around by Kimi Raikkonen, taking advantage of two safety vehicle interventions, to climb back to second overall.
The five who missed the top-ten shootout were Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Sergio Perez of Force India, Fernando Alonso of McLaren, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Marcus Ericsson for Sauber. He parked neatly to avoid any need for another VSC.
After a dramatic race Kimi Raikkonen's wife has her say on Lewis Hamilton's comments while Ferrari's auto handles the conditions and McLaren attempt to reverse their declineWhat had been a thrilling race to the end was still disappointing for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes and they closed it with what felt like sour grapes.