The World Champion knew that he only just held on saying on team radio “f*** that was close” as Max Verstappen raced hard at Hamilton over the final lap.
On the 50th lap, Valtteri Bottas, who was second all day, suffered a delamination puncture early in a lap, handing Verstappen second.
The same issue happened to Hamilton on the final lap, who led Verstappen by 15 seconds before the Red Bull pitted.
Coming out 35 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen got as close as turning the final corner as Hamilton limped over the line, crossing the line 5.8 seconds behind the Brit.
It wasn’t the only issue with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz’s tyre exploding in a shower of sparks on the penultimate lap, allowing Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo into fourth.
Bottas ended up finishing in 11th and Sainz in 13th.
The questions were then asked about Verstappen’s tyres and whether switching to new tyres cost him a win at Silverstone.
“Going for that fastest lap has cost Red Bull the victory,” Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle said.
David Croft asked: “What were the state of Max Verstappen’s tyres? Did he need to come in? If he had to come in, you saw what happened to Hamilton, to Bottas, to Sainz as well, that they had to make that call.”
The commentators said that Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko then appeared to go and ask questions, as did the fans.
Verstappen was happy with second but also ruing his missed opportunity to go to the top of the podium.
“It’s lucky and unlucky,” he said post-race. “The tyres didn’t look great with 10 laps to go and I was already on the radio. Then Valtteri got a puncture so I came on the radio and said I’m going to back it out. Then of course they boxed me to go for the fastest lap.
“Then unfortunately Lewis got a puncture himself. But I’m very happy with second, it’s a very good result for us.”
Hamilton opened up on the chaos of the final lap.
“Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing,” he said. “The tyres looked great. Valtteri was really pushing incredibly hard. I was doing some management of tyre, he looked like he wasn’t doing any, so when I heard that his tyre went I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine.
“The car was was still turning no problem and I was thinking maybe it was OK. So the last few laps I started to back off but then down the straight it just deflated.
“Just driving to keep the speed off, oh my god, I was just praying to get around and not be too slow. I nearly didn’t get around the last few corners. Maybe we should have stopped.”
Hamilton added: “I’ve never experienced anything like that on the last lap, my heart definitely almost stopped.”
It was an eventful race across the board with Racing Point substitute Nico Hulkenberg not even able to start the race after power unit issues.
But he was quickly joined in the garage by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who had a collision with Alexander Albon, with the Red Bull driver copping a five second penalty.
In a good drive, he went from the back of the grid up to eighth by the end the race.
But there was a second crash as AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat had a suspected rear tyre puncture and crashed heavily into the barriers.
As he crashed, he said “Oh guys, I’m so f***ing sorry” to his team over team radio.
There was immediate worry after the crash which saw flying off the car but Kvyat got out of the car quickly.
Daniil "Tony Stewart" Kvyat pic.twitter.com/khn1eRYJSH— BrakeHard (@BrakeHard_) August 2, 2020
A shattered looking Kvyat took a second to compose himself after the incident but he was far from happy that he had a TV camera shoved in his face, pushing the cameraman out of the way.
There was also plenty for the stewards to look at with Haas’ Romain Grosjean getting a black and white flag for a move under breaking as Sainz overtook, while he did a similar move when Ricciardo went past.
Lance Stroll also got the warning late in the race as Esteban Ocon won the battle between the pair.