Lewis Hamilton recovered from what he described as "a real kick in the balls" to instead deliver a telling blow to Nico Rosberg in their battle for this year's Formula One World Championship.

Having trailed his Mercedes team-mate in the standings by 29 points ahead of a British Grand Prix in which he knew he could not afford to lose further ground, victory would not come easily for Hamilton following an error in judgement in qualifying.

Provisionally on 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 frustration went on to claim top spot on the grid. The Englishman was left to start out from sixth place.

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However, Hamilton returned to the track re-energised and took both the chequered flag and the acclaim of a 120,000-strong crowd, his success aided somewhat by Rosberg's first retirement of the year as the consequence of a gearbox failure.

"[Qualifying] was tough to take. You never think a situation like that would come up the way it did," said Hamilton. "It was a real kick in the b***s 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 qualifying it was so hard. I really was almost speechless when I spoke to them [his family] and it was no-one else's fault but mine.

"I was just so disappointed in myself, so coming back [yesterday] my priority was to turn that serious emptiness and negativity into a positive. To get that result, 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 made up two places in the first few corners by the time the race was red-flagged following an horrific crash along Wellington Straight and which involved Kimi Raikkonen. After losing control of his Ferrari coming out of Aintree, the 34-year-old ploughed into a metal guardrail at 47g, spinning back on to the circuit where he collided with Williams' Felipe Massa.

With the aid of a marshal, Raikkonen limped away with bruising on his ankle and hip only and will be fit for the next race in Germany.

The British Grand Prix, however, was held up for exactly an hour as repairs were conducted to the barrier for safety reasons. When the race resumed, Hamilton swiftly drove past McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button to move up to second. It appeared the win would then hinge on the tyre strategies of the Mercedes team-mates, until Rosberg was forced to retire on lap 29.

From then on it was plain sailing for Hamilton, although in the back of his mind - and after two retirements of his own this season - there was a nagging doubt as to whether further technical problems would derail his charge to the finish.

Fortunately for Hamilton, he was able to claim his fifth win this season and 27th of his F1 career. It was a significant victory too as it hauled him to within four points of Rosberg in the drivers standings.

"It's my home grand prix, it's my second win here," added Hamilton. "I'm very privileged to have even just had one, so I feel very humble to be up here [on the podium] again."

Williams' Valtteri Bottas - who finished on the podium for the first time in his career a fortnight ago when he was third in Austria - went one better yesterday as he finished runner-up to Hamilton.

The British supporters were denied further cause to celebrate as McLaren driver Button missed out on third place narrowly, crossing the lined by just 0.8secs slower than Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

However, it was a day when Button celebrated the life of his late father John, who passed away earlier this year, with 'Pink for Papa'. Many spectators wore pink T-shirts as part of a charity event, the colour of Button's father's 'lucky' race shirt.

Although the Englishman remains without a podium at Silverstone in 15 attempts, he conceded his father would have been proud. "It was almost a great day. I think one more lap would have done it," said Button.

"We definitely gave it our all. To get a fourth is far better than we expected. Maybe the time I get on the podium will be when I win. But I'm not disappointed; I had a really good weekend. I go away happy.

"My dad would have loved it. I can see his face now, when I would have walked out of the motorhome, he would have shook my hand, had a wink in his eye, and said 'go on son, this is your time'. He would have been a very happy man."