Vettel has emerged the clear victor from F1's first-ever triple header of races having led Hamilton by a point going into the French GP on June 24.
Two Safety Car periods played into Hamilton's hands, as well as giving Mercedes' teammate Valtteri Bottas a shot at victory, only for the two-stopping Vettel to recover the lead with five laps remaining en route to his 51st career win.
"You're a lion", the elated team told him over the radio at the chequered flag as they celebrated Ferrari's first win in Britain since 2011.
Bottas was fourth with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo fifth and Nico Hulkenberg sixth for Renault.
Pierre Gasly rounded out the points-paying positions for Toro Rosso in P10, but is under investigation after a run-in with Sergio Perez when passing at Luffield.
Then when Sauber's Marcus Ericsson skidded off with 19 laps left, Hamilton was handed another lifeline with a safety vehicle. Especially here because I mean, here is not easy.
Although Hamilton dropped to 18th, he put in a storming drive to finish the grand prix in second place.
"It was my mistake", he said.
However, the Brit fought back brilliantly to end the race in second place, in between the Ferraris on the podium.
On another sweltering afternoon in central England, with a track temperature of 53 degrees Celsius (127 degrees Fahrenheit), the drama began immediately.
Both spun and rejoined, Hamilton after running off track.
"I think my car's broken", said the defending champion as he reconciled himself to a charge through a field shaken by the opening lap incidents. It should not have been, but for me, Lewis's job, being last, coming all the way to second, shows what performance he had here. Verstappen and Raikkonen were third and fourth with Ricciardo fifth.
A furious finale to match the frantic first lap looked certain when Ericsson then crashed at Turn One. Hamilton was able to lap as much as 1.5 seconds per lap faster than Vettel in the lead, who was struggling on the Mediums.
As at Spielberg, Hamilton was concerned by the decision. Later he was quick to say it wasn't an issue: "I don't have any concerns". These guys would have pulled away. Hamilton stayed close in third, hoping for a chance.
Bottas had held Vettel off on a number of occasions but the championship leader then pulled off a sublime late dive to the inside at Brooklands to force his way through (pictured above) and escape up the road, with Bottas then fading as Hamilton and Raikkonen also found a way through. But doing the opposite was the choice we went for and at the end it brought us a P2 and P4 and I think considering how the race started, we need to accept the result as an acceptable outcome with real damage limitation.