Lewis Hamilton has vowed to repay the legions of British fans for their overwhelming support with a Silverstone success story in the future.
Hamilton hailed yesterday's race as one of the best British Grands Prix of all time, despite finishing fourth, 29 seconds behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
But after all the negativity and flak Hamilton has faced leading up to this race with regard to his driving style, his performance was vintage, and one in the eye for his critics.
The first few laps, in particular, showed McLaren star Hamilton at his best, weaving his way up to fifth from 10th on the grid and in tricky conditions given a rain shower that had soaked around three quarters of the circuit an hour before the start.
One brilliant manoeuvre on Alonso epitomised his courage, diving down the inside of the Spaniard into Copse where it was still wet having shortly beforehand switched to slick tyres.
There were brief hopes of victory soon after the second stop when he closed to within a second of Alonso, who at that stage had taken up the lead.
But it was not to be, not in a car lacking performance compared to the Ferrari and Red Bulls, with Sebastian Vettel edging team-mate Mark Webber to claim second and
so open up an 80-point lead.
And certainly not after being told to save fuel 15 laps from home, allowing Felipe Massa to close in the dying stages.
That resulted in a titanic last-lap struggle and last-corner collision from which Hamilton just gained the upper hand to cross the line by centimetres from the Brazilian.
That was a measure of his never-say-die spirit, and some reward for the majority of a 120,000-plus crowd who had lifted him in the wake of his qualifying performance on Saturday afternoon. I feel massively exhilarated,” said Hamilton.
“The conditions made it exciting, gave us a chance to get up there, and I was able to show my true talent and skill over those early laps.
“I was the fastest on the track, even though I didn't have the best car, so that felt fantastic for me, and the fans were phenomenal.
“Even though we didn't win, I still feel it has been one of the best Silverstone grands prix of all time.
“Other drivers have different opinions about what energy they get from their fans, but it's all positive energy for me.
“When we did the parade lap you could see all the (McLaren) tops, the flags and the messages they put on them. It all adds up.
“I was 10th at the start, but the support I was getting it was almost as if I was on pole.
“That's the thing with the fans, whether we are winning or losing, they are with you all the way, and I just can't wait for the time we are at the front and we are able to win for them.”
As for team-mate Jenson Button, he must feel there is a curse over him for this race as his record of never finishing on the podium has now been extended to 12 races.
On this occasion his front-right wheel came loose as he pulled away from his third stop 12 laps from
home as the wheel nut had not been fitted when a potential top-three finish was on the cards.
“Sorry to the fans, I wish we could have done more. It seems that way at the British Grand Prix for me over the last few years,” said Button.
“But we all make mistakes, and you always hope they won't happen to you, but this is even more disappointing because it’s at Silverstone.
“But I'll come back next year, I'll hopefully have a strong car and we won't make any mistakes.”
In the end Alonso won by 20 seconds from Vettel, who had his own issues at a pit stop with his rear-left tyre, costing him the lead.
Alonso did not look back, giving Ferrari their first win for 11 races, and on the 60th anniversary of their maiden F1 win — at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix.
After clinching what was the 27th victory of his career, to lift him up to fifth in the all-time standings alongside Sir Jackie Stewart, Alonso said: “This is a very special win.
“For me it's special to race for this team, to give them my maximum capacity and maximum abilities for a good result. This is team work and I'm very happy for them.”
For the third Briton in Paul di Resta, a seventh-placed finish was on the cards until five minutes to forget that left him trailing home in 15th in his Force India.
At his second stop his pit crew came out with the tyres that were meant for team-mate Adrian Sutil, losing him considerable time.
Shortly after returning to the track Toro Rosso' Sebastien Buemi ran over the front wing of his car, forcing him back into the pits for a new nose, costing him any hope of a points finish.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND STANDINGS
1 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1hr 28mins 41.196secs, 2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:28:57.707, 3 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:28:58.143, 4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:29:10.182, 5 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:29:10.206, 6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:41.861, 7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:29:46.786, 8 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:29:56.738, 9 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:59.108, 10 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:30:00.304, 11 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:30:00.908, 12 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:30:01.877, 13 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 1 Lap, 14 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 Lap, 15 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India at 1 Lap, 16 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 2 Laps, 17 Jerome d'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing at 2 Laps, 18 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 at 2 Laps, 19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 at 3 Laps. Not Classified: 20 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 39 Laps completed, 21 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 25 Laps completed, 22 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 23 Laps completed, 23 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 10 Laps completed, 24 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 2 Laps completed.
World Championship Standings — Drivers: 1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 204pts, 2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 124, 3 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 112, 4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 109, 5 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 109, 6 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 52, 7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 40, 8 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 34, 9 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 31, 10 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 28,
Manufacturers: 1 Red Bull 328pts, 2 McLaren 218, 3 Ferrari 164, 4 Mercedes GP 68, 5 Renault 65, 6 Sauber-Ferrari 33.