That he did in Montreal, Canada at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve but it still wasn't enough for him to claim victory. With one defiant shuffle of the boards, Vettel put Hamilton in his place. Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas had a torrid qualifying session and could only manage sixth behind Red Bull's Pierre Gasly.
And he rejected the argument that Vettel committed an offence either way, because he had either rejoined the track dangerously or had deliberately impeded Hamilton.
Hamilton led for two laps before doing the same. That was all between Vettel and Hamilton.
This would be a one pit stop strategy race.
Before the halfway mark of the race, SportPesa Racing Point's Lance Stroll, who was racing in his home Grand Prix, had managed to climb up to eighth position from 17th. Vettel pitted after 26 laps to switch from the medium compound Pirelli slicks to the hard compound.
Ferrari was not willing to risk the undercut.
The Mercedes team had a scare on Sunday morning when Hamilton's vehicle had a hydraulic leak. The other question is of gaining an advantage on-track by going off it, but the incident only reduced Vettel's lead. We were able to get the vehicle back together. The Briton had to brake and pull out of his overtaking manoeuvre, prompting the stewards to impose the time penalty on Vettel. Vettel may not have got the win, but with this fiery show of spirit, and by accusing the system and not his rival, he scored an iconic visual goal-one that is bigger (and more exciting) than current Formula One.
And while ultimately the pace of the Mercedes and Red Bull proved too much later on in the race, it did offer the French manufacturer a first experience of fighting with the top teams.
"Vettel was screaming 'I have dirt on my tyres, I was out of control, where do you want me to go..." It ruined the race because it was a bad call, not because, 'It should have been a different victor'.
This led to dramatic scenes as first, Vettel failed to drive the vehicle to the designated spot for podium finishers, then refused to take part in the immediate post-race media engagement and went and took the first place position marker in front of Hamilton's auto and placed it on an empty spot where he should have parked his vehicle.
"I have a lot of respect for the work of the stewards and for their professionalism, and I believe they would be the first to say that they would prefer not to see a race outcome decided via a penalty", he said in a review of the weekend. Max got a five-second penalty.
"In Canada, the interpretation was according to the rules".
Rosberg said he had spoken to his father, 1982 world champion Keke, who felt the decision had been 60-40 in favor of a penalty.
Rosberg criticized Vettel for mistakes under pressure and wasting energy complaining.