Lewis Hamilton recovered from what he described as "a real kick in the b***s" to deliver a vital blow to Nico Rosberg in their battle for this year's Formula One World Championship.
Trailing Mercedes team-mate Rosberg by 29 points coming into a British Grand Prix in which he knew he could not afford to lose further ground, Hamilton made a shocking error in qualifying.
On provisional 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 horror went on to claim top spot on the grid, whereas the Briton slipped to sixth.
Come the race, however, a pumped-up Hamilton took the chequered flag to the acclaim of a 120,000-strong crowd, aided by Rosberg's first retirement of the year with a gearbox failure.
"Yesterday 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 qualiying 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 today my priority was to turn that serious emptiness and negativity into a positive.
"To get that result today, 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 had already made up two places in the first few corners when the race was red flagged following a huge crash involving Kimi Raikkonen along Wellington Straight.
After losing control of his Ferrari coming out of Aintree, the 34-year-old ended up ploughing into a metal guardrail at 47g and spinning back on to the circuit where he was hit by Williams' Felipe Massa.
With the aid of a marshal, Raikkonen limped away with only ankle and hip bruising and will be fit for the next race in Germany.
The grand prix, however, was held up for exactly an hour as repairs were conducted to the armco for safety reasons.
Following the resumption of the race, Hamilton swiftly made short work of McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button to move up to second.
It appeared the win would then hinge on a tyre strategy fight between the duo until Rosberg was forced to retire on lap 29.
From there it was plain sailing for Hamilton, although in the back of his mind - after two retirements of his own this season - there was a nagging doubt as to whether further technical gremlins would bite.
Mercifully, they stayed away, allowing Hamilton to claim his fifth win this season and 27th of his F1 career to haul him to within four points of Rosberg.
"To say this win is up there with my all-time greats...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, on the podium for the first time in his F1 career a fortnight ago in Austria when third, went one better as he finished runner-up to Hamilton.
The British fans were unfortunately denied a podium to savour as McLaren's Button missed out on third to Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo by just 0.8secs
It was a day when Button celebrated the life of father John, who passed away earlier this year, with 'Pink for Papa'.
Many people wore pink T-shirts in homage of John, who always dressed in a pink shirt on Sundays throughout his son's entire career.
Although Button 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. Obviously it could have been a better weekend, but it was pretty damn good, so I go away happy.
"And 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'.
"It was the perfect sort of race for him. He would have been a very happy man."