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Already up to fifth with 14 laps gone, picking off nearly a vehicle a lap, Hamilton proceeded to take great chunks of time out of his rivals as the rain fell and the tyre strategy played to his advantage. Hamilton now leads Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 17 points.

The question was whether he had done so in an unsafe manner.

Pole-sitter Vettel had been in control of his home race, and looked destined to increase his title advantage over Hamilton before a late rain shower ensured a spectacular end.

And having faced the brunt of some jeers over the weekend from fans of title rival Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton said that the reaction he got actually made him more determined to do well.

Although a heavy clout across the kerbs on the exit initially appeared to have caused the hydraulic issues that stopped him during Q1 to leave him 14th on the grid, the world champion says his steering had already lost power on the entry. "I've never had a race like this".

"The kart that I had was really, really old and had been owned by about five different families".

"It would be really hard for me to answer that", answered Hamilton. "Whatever is happening in your life to hold so much anger and hate, I pray that it passes and good things come to you".

"And when I came here, there was a lot of booing". "I will keep trying".

He said: "What I said to Valtteri is something that I would also say in the team". Moments later, Hamilton was slumped over his auto, head down for several moments. But on Sunday, he did not put a foot wrong.

The flashpoint arrived with just 15 laps remaining. On lap 14, he passed the Haas auto of Kevin Magnussen for fifth, and then began his pursuit of catching the leading pack.

Despite coming from the back of the field to finish second at Silverstone a fortnight ago, the Briton is not convinced a repeat charge is on the cards this time out. A little less than two laps later, a light sprinkling arrived.

Vettel was furious after making a mistake in the slippery conditions.

Ferrari junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi will take to the Sauber cockpit for opening practice on Friday.

Ferrari driver Vettel delivered a blistering time with his final throw of the dice to beat Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas to pole by 0.204 seconds, and take the cheers of the Hockenheim crowd. Lewis Hamilton followed them in before changing his mind at the last second.

He was in the lead, and, despite a slap on the wrists from the stewards, it proved the right call.

With Hamilton in the lead after the restart in the wake of Vettel's crash, he was chased down hard by Bottas who nearly passed him but was then ordered to hold station by Mercedes. The race stewards added that a reprimand was the appropriate penalty for Hamilton. It was so intense.