Hamilton and Vettel were battling for the lead at the business end of the race, with vital World Drivers’ Championship points on the line.
The reigning champion Brit saw his opportunity to nab the lead from Vettel on lap 48 as the Ferrari driver ran wide on turn four.
However, Vettel managed to stay in front of Hamilton by re-entering the track just ahead of him as he battled to control his car.
Vettel and Hamilton almost collided though – with the Mercedes man pushed dangerously close to the wall on the near side.
Hamilton did not take too kindly to Vettel’s move, fuming at his title rival to his Mercedes team-mates.
“He just came on the track so dangerous,” Hamilton said on Mercedes team radio.
Mercedes sympathised with their talismanic driver, suggesting they would take it to the stewards.
“Copy, Lewis – we’re on it,” Mercedes personnel responded from the pit lane.
10 minutes later, Mercedes, Ferrari and the driving duo had their answer – and it wasn’t good for Vettel.
Stewards ruled that the incident was caused by Vettel making an unsafe re-entry, which forced Hamilton off the track.
The German was subsequently handed a five-second penalty, which he could ill-afford with Hamilton on his tail.
Hamilton was less than a second adrift of leader Vettel with three laps to go, meaning he would leapfrog the Ferrari ace if it stayed that way.