When the safety vehicle was deployed following Marcus Ericsson's crash, Mercedes elected to leave both drivers out, thereby handing Valtteri Bottas the lead - and track position - over Vettel, while at the same time allowing Hamilton to get ahead of Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.
The fact that Hamilton is only eight points adrift after 10 races is remarkable, considering that Mercedes have only won three times so far in 2018.
It appeared Hamilton's Mercedes was permanently beached, then, first with all the alacrity of a Walrus dragging its tonnage across the sand, then like a thief running from the police he returned to the race.
"Maybe we would have had a chance at the end to attack with no safety auto but that's two maybe's. It was a racing incident and nothing more".
"The fans have been incredible this weekend and I'm grateful for the England football team at least doing great this weekend and keeping it positive", said Hamilton.
"I think my car's broken", said the defending champion as he reconciled himself to a charge through a field shaken by the opening lap incidents. And get it down he did.
Vettel added: "I wasn't sure I could do qualifying and it wasn't very enjoyable because my neck was stiff".
Hamilton's arm wrestle is against Vettel, of course. By the safety auto restart he was up to third. On cue, Marcus Ericsson lost it through Abbey on lap 33. Mercedes rolled the dice positively, as opposed to last week, by keeping Hamilton and Bottas on the circuit.
Hamilton was not convinced. We could have saved the soft in Q2 but I don't think it would have made a big outcome because we wouldn't have pitted.
"It's easy for you to sit and watch the race". "Don't give up." He still wasn't convinced, once again questioning the value of his tyres.
"I came here to clarify, if he actually said something like that, I mean, he should be ashamed of himself", Arrivabene said.
"In hindsight I think the safety auto went against him, " he added. This was F1 hokey cokey, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean coming together around Copse to trigger an immediate return of the flashing light. In fifth place finished the race Daniel Riccardo from "Red bull", but his teammate and the victor of the last stage in Austria, Max Verstappen to the finish line is not reached.
With this victory, Vettel has assumed the lead in the championship. In F1 folklore as written by former McLaren leader Ron Dennis, second was always first of the losers.
"Our team did an unbelievable job this weekend, we have so much support and so much pressure for us all", he said.