It was not a certainty but he showed incredible pace, even when putting moves on other drivers.
There was a handshake for his German foe but Hamilton studiously avoided Raikkonen.
Hamilton had referred to "interesting tactics" immediately after the race, in which Raikkonen hit the back of his auto and spun him round on the first lap.
He was, interviewer Martin Brundle would tell us, so despondent after everything he gave when sneaking a fantastic pole position on Saturday, in front of the home crowd.
"I sweated my a*** off in that race". "There is no way I am going to be able to compete with these guys on old tyres", he said. "You're have the quickest auto by a mile", he was told by race engineer Pete Bonnington.
"We'll take it on the chin and keep pushing hard, because believe me I will not give up". This is Vettel's second career win at Silverstone.
Although the only win for Mercedes in the past five races has come at Paul Ricard, Wolff is not dwelling on the missed opportunities at tracks they have been traditionally strong at.
"The suggestion that Ferrari were deliberately targeting their cars and that Raikkonen had intentionally hit Hamilton was farcical on many levels, not least that planning to do so would have had to anticipate Hamilton losing places.Equally with damage likely to go both ways and Ferrari very much in the constructors" fight it would been self-defeating.
The session began in hot conditions with a track temperature of 51 degrees Celsius (or 124 degrees Fahrenheit) and the air at 26, Vettel following Raikkonen after some intensive physiotherapy to ease his stiff neck. As he approached turn three, Kimi Raikkonen clipped him and he fell down the pecking order to 18th.
It was not the start celebrities like Sir Kenny Dalglish, boxer Nicola Adams and golfer Ian Poulter were expecting.
And former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer was impressed with how well Hamilton bounced back.
Roger Federer vs Kevin Anderson, Wimbledon 2018
It will be the 31-year-old Serb's first semi-final at a Slam since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam . Kevin Anderson , left, rallied from two sets down to deny Roger Federer's bid to win his ninth Wimbledon title this year.
Mercedes decision not to bring Bottas to pit under the safety vehicle cost another podium place for one of their drivers.
This time his team, who had messed up the strategy so badly just seven days before in Austria, got it right.
The victory extended Vettel's lead in the drivers' championship to 171 points, with Hamilton on 163.
Vettel now leads the title race with 171 points, eight ahead of Hamilton on 163 while Raikkonen is third on 116.
Hamilton said: "It was 100 percent the right decision for me with the safety auto". I'll start the wave, and let them continue'.
"I don't know all the names but you're flat-out all the way into it".
"Honestly, to get back to second it's huge for us and I will definitely take it, of course, and I'm happy with the drive that I did".
"We've won on their home ground", Vettel said once translated from Italian.
"If he really said something like that, he should be ashamed".
"The tape held up and the race was fantastic".