Lewis Hamilton recovered from what he described as “a real kick in the stomach” to deliver a vital blow to Nico Rosberg in their battle for this year’s Formula One World Championship.
Trailing Mercedes team-mate Rosberg by 29 points coming into a British Grand Prix in which he knew he could not afford to lose further ground, Hamilton made a shocking error in qualifying.
On provisional pole at Silverstone, but in variable weather conditions, Hamilton opted to slow down on his second hot lap believing he would be unable to improve his time.
Rosberg immediately flashed by and to Hamilton’s horror went on to claim top spot on the grid, whereas the Briton slipped to sixth.
Come the race, however, a pumped-up Hamilton took the chequered flag to the acclaim of a 120,000-strong crowd, aided by Rosberg’s first retirement of the year with a gearbox failure.
“Yesterday was tough to take. You never think a situation like that would come up the way it did,” said Hamilton.
“It was a real blow and I went away feeling terrible for the fans because their support has been amazing. I felt I had really let them down, not just the team and myself.
“It’s so difficult to really explain the feelings. When you feel like the world is crumbling beneath you, somehow with your family, friends and the fans, they help pull you through.
“After qualiying it was so hard. I really was almost speechless when I spoke to them (him family), and it was no one else’s fault but mine.
“I was just so disappointed in myself, so coming back today my priority was to turn that serious emptiness and negativity into a positive.
“To get that result today, to really climb through...at the end of the day I really needed this result, so I’m very grateful for it.
“This weekend just showed you never give up.”
Hamilton had already made up two places in the first few corners when the race was red flagged following an horrific smash involving Kimi Raikkonen along Wellington Straight.
After losing control of his Ferrari coming out of Aintree, the 34-year-old ended up ploughing into a metal guardrail at 47g, spinning back on to the circuit where he was hit by Williams’ Felipe Massa.
With the aid of a marshal, Raikkonen limped away with only ankle and hip bruising and will be fit for the next race in Germany.
The grand prix, however, was held up for exactly an hour as repairs were conducted to the armco for safety reasons.
Following the resumption of the race, Hamilton swiftly made short work of McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button to move up to second.
It appeared the win would then hinge on a tyre strategy fight between the duo until Rosberg was forced to retire on lap 29.
From there it was plain sailing for Hamilton.