It seems the general consensus is that the safety car gifted Vettel the second place, and that he would have only gotten third if not for the ‘gifted’ pit stop. It’s a shame that this idea clouds what actually went on and just leaves some with a sour aftertaste.
Vettel on his option tires was much faster than Hamilton when he closed up to him, but with a +10kph speed difference, making an overtaking move on Hamilton would have killed his tires. The moment Hamilton got the call he needed a few more laps before his pit stop, Vettel closed on him with tenths-of-a-second laps and he was less than a second behind when Hamilton pitted.
Vettel was biding his time, saving his tires so that he could get the undercut on Hamilton. The shame is that with the safety car, we didn’t actually get to see how things would have panned out. If Vettel was able to make up the time and make the undercut. But simply putting it away as “Vettel was lucky” takes away from a brilliant piece of strategy we saw today.