Lewis Hamilton was grateful to salvage second place in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after Mercedes' tyres caused problems again at Silverstone.
Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton both struggled throughout with blistering that the six-time Formula 1® champion described as "hardcore".
Max Verstappen did not encounter such tyre issues as Red Bull's strategy to start the Dutchman on the hard compound propelled him to a brilliant victory from fourth on the grid.
Hamilton, who limped to victory at the British Grand Prix last week with a puncture, briefly pondered staying out on a risky one-stop strategy to deny his Red Bull rival late in the race.
He ultimately opted to pit for fresh tyres and, having returned to the track in fourth, promptly swept past Charles Leclerc and then Bottas to claim a second-place finish and remain in control of the drivers' championship.
"It was a massive challenge," Hamilton, who now leads Verstappen by 30 points and Bottas by 34, said after the race.
"Congratulations to the Red Bull team and to Max. You look at the tyres and they obviously didn't have the problems we had.
"Definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore as we experienced. [We don't know the cause], not that I'm aware of.
"I'm sure the team will be working as hard as they can because we've not had [those tyre issues] before. I don't know if anyone struggled with blistering like we did.
"But I'm really grateful to progress [through the field] and manage to get my way through until the end."
Hamilton, who also had the fastest lap, continued: "That middle stint I was managing to the best of my ability, but it didn't make a single difference to that blistering.
"I was driving with half a tyre basically - it held together but I was nervous it was going to explode or something."
Hamilton was unsure there was a way Mercedes could have stopped Verstappen from triumphing under the circumstances.
"Such a difficult race," he added to Sky Sports. "I love a challenge, so it was good, but it was just unexpected.
"The last race we had understeer and were struggling with the front tyres blistering and running out. Now this weekend, it's the complete opposite, the rear. There was nothing we could do.
"We tried to go slower through the corners to save it and it wouldn't work. It was a real shock. I couldn't then attack Valtteri, who was pulling away [at the start].
"But I was really grateful in the second stint that I was able to extend. I was thinking, 'Should I stay out?'
"I know now I couldn't have matched Max's times at the end, so he would have caught me and the tyres might have blown out.
"If the rear goes, that's a spin, a crash in the wall. I think it was a good decision in the end by the team [to pit].
"I don't know how [we could have won] exactly. Could we have done better? For sure. But I still think they would have won - they didn't seem to have the same huge band on the left rear."