Daniel Ricciardo is losing faith in Renault's reliability after the Australian almost missed out on Saturday's Chinese Grand Prix qualifying due to an engine failure in final practice.
Verstappen was still going and soon took overtook Hamilton for the second time to retake fourth place, though his time penalty meant the Dutchman ultimately finished in fifth place. That meant the vehicle only returned to the Red Bull garage with a little over two hours before qualifying and required a power unit change.
The top six drivers held their positions at the restart, with Bottas soon establishing a two-second lead over Vettel. Red Bulls poised to attack on their fresher tyres.
Lap 43: Verstappen and Vettel collide.
Australian Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has starred in China as he took victory in Shanghai ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen. Verstappen also soon overtook Hamilton, who seemed unable to keep pace with the frontrunners. Bottas and Vettel had already passed the pit entry when the safety auto was deployed so could not have pitted.
It is the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that Mercedes have gone three races in a row without victory.
While all this was going on, Ricciardo was relentlessly hunting down Bottas, and he clinically passed the Mercedes to take the lead on lap 45.
Raikkonen was still on track and leading the race at that point, albeit without making a stop.
Valtteri Bottas, who finished second: "The race was going pretty well for us and we were looking strong until the safety vehicle".
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With Ricciardo now untouchable, Raikkonen began to pressure Bottas for second, but the younger Finn held on.
The collision that saw the safety vehicle deployed was deemed to be Pierre Gasly's fault, and he was given a ten-second penalty. Only Red Bull among the frontrunners pits as Verstappen and Ricciardo put on softs.
As the drivers reeled off the closing laps with Ricciardo looking serene at the front, the main on-track interest was the battle for second place, with Bottas closely followed by Raikkonen and Verstappen. The Dutchman had got his vehicle alongside Hamilton at Turn 6 but couldn't get the move done there and instead chose to look to the outside at Turn 7. Hamilton, who has been off colour all weekend, salvaged fifth.
Lap 56: Ricciardo crosses the line for victory.
In the constructors' stakes, Mercedes now have a one-point advantage over Ferrari, 85 to 84, with Red Bull moving into a clear third place on 55.
The problems also come as the 28-year-old is considering his future with Red Bull, revealing earlier this week that he will wait until next month at the earliest to start talks.
The advantage of fresh tyres allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to scythe through the field.
The final pass on Bottas was daring, but the Mercedes driver saw the Red Bull and gave just enough room for Ricciardo to get through.
It got better for Ricciardo on lap 42, as he made a DRS-assisted move past Vettel to move up to second.