Lewis Hamilton was left to reflect on arguably one of the greatest drives of his Formula One career, even though victory in a dramatic German Grand Prix gallingly belonged to title rival Nico Rosberg.

Following an accident in qualifying and subsequent five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change due to damage sustained, Hamilton was left in a lowly 20th place on the starting grid.

But for only the second time since Hamilton arrived in F1 in 2007, the 29-year-old scored a podium finish from a starting position outside the top 10, claiming third, with Williams' Valtteri Bottas runner-up.

The other occasion was in Brazil 2009 when Hamilton was also third, but from 17th, meaning a rise in this instance of 17 positions.

Mercedes determined Hamilton completed 15 overtaking manoeuvres in total on track, whilst there were three separate minor collisions.

It was a bumpy ride for Hamilton, but he held on in an exercise of damage limitation, losing only 10 points to Rosberg who now holds a 14-point cushion with 10 races gone and nine to go.

"I got the job done today so I can go away happy knowing I did a good job," said Hamilton.

"There are lots of positives for me from this race. I came from near last, so to finish on the podium is quite an achievement.

"Going into it I thought to myself 'all good things happen for a reason', and I guess sometimes the reason is to be able to show my abilities.

"This was the perfect time for me to be able to show what I can do, and thankfully I have the car to do it.

"But I had great fun and I'm very happy I got some points."

Hamilton's shunt in qualifying after a right-front brake disc failure that pitched him into a high-speed pirouette and a 30g smack into a tyre barrier, left him with a sore back and neck pain that required acupuncture.

Hamilton's charge through the field was as much about going through the pain barrier as keeping Rosberg in his sights in the championship fight.

There were, though, those three minor scrapes to contend with, the first ending with Hamilton's car being hit on the left-hand sidepod by former friend Adrian Sutil's Sauber.

Next up was a stunning pass on both Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo into the hairpin, with Hamilton and the Finn colliding, and the latter losing a small piece of front wing.

Finally, Hamilton and former team-mate Jenson Button also collided at the hairpin, and on this occasion it was the former whose front-wing was damaged.

In turn, that affected the front-left tyre, forcing Mercedes into a change of strategy for the Briton, switching from a three-stop plan to two.

Potentially it cost Hamilton the runner-up spot because try as he might he was unable to get close enough to Bottas to make a pass over the closing stages of the 67-lap race.

For the Finn, he becomes the first Williams driver since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003 to finish on the podium in three consecutive races.

With 91 points to his name in total, Bottas has also scored more than the Grove-based marque mustered in the previous three years combined.

As for Rosberg, such was his comfortable lights-to-flag triumph, he barely figured in any of the television pictures as the focus centred on Hamilton and other scraps down the field.

That will not concern him, with his success in front of his home fans completing an astonishing few days for the 29-year-old.

After getting married, watching Germany win the World Cup and signing a new long-term deal with Mercedes, Rosberg becomes the first German driver in a German car to win the German Grand Prix in F1 history.

"It's fantastic. It's an amazing feeling for me to win here at home. A very special day for me," said Rosberg.

"I've been really fortunate. Many positive things have happened in the past week and a half which have been really enjoyable, and now this weekend with pole and the win is just awesome."

Behind the lead trio were two other world champions in Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who endured a titanic struggle with Ricciardo over the closing stages, just holding sway.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, followed by McLaren duo Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, with Sergio Perez in his Force India completing the top 10.

As for Williams' Felipe Massa, who had started third on the grid, for the second successive event his race ended on lap one when a collision with Magnussen flipped his car over onto the rollbar.

Fortunately for the Brazilian, the car quickly righted itself, allowing him to escape unharmed.