Despite making mistakes, being slightly off the pace and beaten by three of his championship leaders, Sebastian Vettel's huge championship lead dimished by just 3 points at the Nurburgring.
The German finished a distant fourth in his home grand prix, but because his closest challenger, teammate and pole sitter Mark Webber was just third at the flag, the massive 80-point gap shrinks to just 77 after the tenth round of the season.
Briton Hamilton called it "one of the best races I think I've ever done", after travelling to the country downbeat following what he described as a "crap" performance on his own home turf two weeks ago at Silverstone.
I never got to the pace Mark had in his car
For Vettel, it ended with successful yet "unsatisfying" damage limitation, following unforced errors and a bizarre last-lap pitstop to relegate Felipe Massa to fifth place.
"I didn't feel too good all weekend," said the world champion. "I never got to the pace Mark had in his car."
Meanwhile, the day at the Nurburgring ended with two technical rules breaches; Webber giving his friend Alonso a lift back to the pits after the Ferrari ran out of fuel, and Hamilton hurdling the parc ferme barriers to greet his mechanics.