There was a time when it seemed Lewis Hamilton might just have a chance of winning yesterday's British Grand Prix, turning around his qualifying misfortunes. But after fighting his way to third place behind the Red Bulls, he later found his McLaren did not have the pace to stay ahead of winner Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, which he had overtaken on the 15th lap.
Soon after Alonso had repassed him on the 28th lap, Hamilton was instructed to slacken his pace because of excessive fuel consumption. That left him powerless to withstand Mark Webber's attack for third, and he was lucky to cross the finish line 0.024 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa after a bruising battle over the final corners.
"That is as close as it is going to get. It was crazy," Hamilton said. "I have never known so many people here at Silverstone. The support we had is far beyond any driver will get anywhere else, I believe. I am massively thankful for that. I could feel them spurring me on and I had a good start, and made some places up.
"Unfortunately, with 21 laps to go, I had to save fuel. Massively. So I had to give Webber the position and then on the last lap they said: 'OK, now you can push'. And I was like: 'Oh, thanks' after I've let Massa catch me up. But I was not giving him that position, no way."
After a courageous performance that delighted his fans, Hamilton admitted that he was frustrated by his enforced-economy run. Team-mate Jenson Button had the same emotion after the wheels literally came off his campaign.
The 2009 champion was running second during the final pit stops and remained in the fight for a top-four placing. But he had to quit on the 39th lap when the right front wheel was not secured properly during his tyre stop.
"We all make mistakes, we all hope they never happen," Button remarked philosophically. "As I turned up the hill, the right front wheel started to come off and I stopped immediately.
"It's hugely disappointing because it was in front of the home crowd and I had a couple of couple of good battles out there and the pace was very good before my stop.
"It was all looking pretty sweet and I think I would have come out alongside Mark [Webber], if not ahead of him, when I made my stop. That might have given me my first podium at home."