However, Hamilton made his stop 14 laps earlier than Vettel and found himself being chased down in the final laps by the Ferrari driver, who had Bottas to contend with himself.
The second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who led the race during the opening stages, switched onto a two-stop strategy.
Vettel believes that Ferrari was correct to stay out much longer than Hamilton, as it was far from clear that the one-stop strategy would work with such an early pit stop.
"Before the race, we were quite sure that we had to make it to a certain lap to make the one-stop work," Vettel said. "When Lewis pitted, that wasn't the case yet.
"We were one and two and it looked like the better strategy, the faster strategy. We split the cars, and if you go for the one-stop, you might as well go for the one-stop properly and not half-hearted.
"When Lewis pitted, it was borderline, maybe too early. But he made the tyres last and had enough towards the end. Plus, we didn't see any graining in the race as we did on Friday which made the biggest difference."
Speaking about Mercedes' race, Vettel said that they were in a more comfortable position behind the two Ferraris early on to make a bolder strategy call.
"After that, you could argue that we could have taken more risk but at that point you are driving into the unknown.
"I think what they [Mercedes] tried to do was fit the hards and see if it makes it. If it doesn't make it, you might as well fit another set at the end and there's your two-stop.
"When you are sitting in P3 and having the chance of first or fifth, you might as well try it."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing