There was to be no fairy-tale ending, no cause for further fawning adulation. The wrong man won the British Grand Prix, sending tens of thousands of adoring Lewis Hamilton
fans home disappointed after what had been billed as the McLaren
man's triumphant homecoming went awry.
Starting from the pole he earned in stunning circumstances on Saturday afternoon, Hamilton held the early advantage, cutting sharply in front of the equally fast-starting Raikkonen and then jinking back to the outside in order to take his line through Copse, coincidentally blocking the Finn for a second time after he had looked for an alternative route around the McLaren.
Fernando Alonso duly slotted into third from the same position on the grid, but already the opposition to Hamilton had been reduced, after Felipe Massa
stalled on the grid, aborting the first start. The Brazilian was wheeled into pit-lane as the field made its way around a second warm-up lap, rejoining at the tail of the pack before making rapid progress towards the points.
Nick Heidfeld made one of the better starts, catapulting his BMW
Sauber from ninth to fifth, before being demoted one spot by Giancarlo Fisichella
at Club. Countryman Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, had gone in the opposite direction, dropping to eighth, while Mark Webber
got the better of Schumacher's Toyota
team-mate Jarno Trulli
to move into the top ten.
By the end of lap one, Massa had made up four spots to be running in 18th place, and his progress continued, with another two places on the next lap and one thereafter until he broke into the tail end of the points, underlining the pace of the Ferrari
that Raikkonen was unable to show as he chased in Hamilton's wake.
The gap between the leaders grew from 0.6secs on lap two to jut over a second by lap ten but, thereafter it was Raikkonen running faster, the Finn closing in on Hamilton as the McLaren's tyres began to drop off. Interestingly, Silverstone produced a rare diversity in tyre choice, with Hamilton and Alonso opting to start on the harder Bridgestone and Ferrari
on the white-striped soft option.
As the first round of pit-stops neared, Raikkonen homed in on the rear of the McLaren, looking at one point that he may be able to make his move on track rather than in the pit-lane. One serious look at Brooklands was rebuffed and Kimi settled for what he knew. Hamilton was in next time around, the first of the frontrunners as expected, and Raikkonen duly assumed control of the race.
All of Hamilton's rivals were about to be handed an unexpected bonus, however, the Briton jumping at the turn of his 'lollipop' and having to get back on the brake again while the rest of his fuel was added. Fortunately, there was no repeat of Christijan Albers' error at Magny-Cours, but the mistake - the first of Hamilton's F1 career - put the home favourite on the back foot.
Sensing his opportunity, Raikkonen promptly banged in the fastest lap of the race to that point before ducking into the pits on lap 18. A smooth stop saw the Finn exit in fourth place as Alonso took over out front, the Ferrari
still on softs while Hamilton was again on the harder compound, albeit with a change of pressures to try and counteract the wear problems that affected the final laps of his first stint.