In F1's first race in France in a decade, Hamilton quickly adapted to the unfamiliar track by posting the top times in both of Friday's qualifying sessions, while Vettel struggled to find the right driving lines.
Asked if there was anything he felt he would do differently if he could relive the moment, Vettel replied: "With hindsight, I would have liked to have a worse start, because then it would have been more straightforward, I wouldn't be in that position". Vettel had a new front wing fitted, while Bottas recovered to the pits with a left rear puncture.
Pierre Gasly went out on the first lap after he spun and took out Esteban Ocon, while Verstappen moved into second from fourth with his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo behind in third.
The German was dropped to 11th with a broken front wing and forced to pit at the end of the lap, while the safety vehicle was called out after further incidents in their wake. Vettel and Bottas were at the back following their repairs.
Race victor Lewis Hamilton echoed Lauda's comments.
Challenging Bottas's second place at the right-hander Turn 1, he locked his left-front brake and pitched the Mercedes into a spin.
Alonso spun, and took aim at the Ferrari man.
June 21 will have longest daytime, shortest night of 2018
The summer solstice festival dates back thousands of years and is one of the most important dates in the pagan calendar. The reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere, where June 21 marks the start of winter.
"It depends. The results on Sunday we are happy and optimistic about with some good performance but on Saturday after qualifying I am always here in this ring answering negative questions because our average position this year is P13, so the level of competitiveness is not at the level that we want". I hope so because Lewis's time was pretty quick.
Vettel and Bottas began climbing through the field however having had the benefit of pitting under a safety vehicle and it didn't take long for them to be back among the points. The Ferrari had made 12 places in 14 laps.
Lewis Hamilton may be facing the next several grands prix without Mercedes' new specification engine. He stopped for new tyres on lap 33, momentarily losing the lead, before regaining it when Raikkonen stopped a lap later.
Leading the championship entering the race, Vettel launched well from third on the grid. That is where he would remain. Belgian team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 18th.
Vettel took the soft tyres and emerged in 17th, his race already reduced to damage limitation. "I think we had no problems with the tyres, so I think we have made progress, and hopefully we can keep learning and make progress". "I am trying to do whatever". "But looking back I pushed too hard".
He is out of contract at the end of the year, and on the evidence of McLaren's miserable form, only money will stop him from quitting.
The Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, however, will get underway on the faster but brittle ultrasofts. "I got a great response from the crowd and I'm delighted to be here for the first time", said Hamilton, who described his final session as "so-so".