Hamilton had referred to "interesting tactics" immediately after the race, in which Raikkonen hit the back of his auto and spun him round on the first lap.
Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas led and might have won but for a second safety vehicle, after Renault's Carlos Sainz and Haas's Romain Grosjean collided, that kept the front four nose to tail and only fractions apart.
Ferrari F1 team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said the Silverstone British Grand Prix was "good for Formula 1" with both Ferraris and both Mercedes duking it out at the front in the closing stages of the race.
Mercedes technical director James Allison said: "Yesterday's free practice running proved an extremely accurate portent of what we saw today".
As a result, Raikkonen got a 10s penalty while Hamilton was at the back of the field.
With Hamilton left with everything to do, it was Vettel that took the early march on the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas.
While Wolff admitted the Hamilton-Raikkonen clash was a racing incident, he said: "Le Castellet was the first time we got taken out and this is the second, it's a lot of constructor points. I couldn't see behind me but we've just to work hard to try to position ourselves better so that we are not exposed to the red cars - because who knows when that's going to happen again". Especially here because I mean, here is not easy.
Two safety cars allowed Hamilton to reel in the lead and he was toe-to-toe with Vettel in the final laps.
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A team of 90 expert divers - 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas - have been involved in the intricate rescue operation. The youngest child, Chanin Wiboonrunreung, and 25-year-old football coach Ekaphol Chantawong, are still inside.
Vettel moved level with Prost at 51 F1 wins, and trails only Hamilton (65) and Michael Schumacher (91).
Allison, who quit Ferrari to join Mercedes, was brought into the post-race row by Merc chief Toto Wolff. Sometimes they want to teach us how to be gentlemen.
He was whizzing round the circuit while Harry Maguire had nodded England's football team in front in Russian Federation, and Hamilton has promised to jet out to Moscow if Gareth Southgate's side reach the World Cup final next Sunday. It was the second time a Ferrari has hit us in the first corner.
And I think Lewis has his engineers to thank for the second place finish.
"I lost almost 3kg [in body fluids] trying to get back to the top for you and my team", he said, addressing his 6.7 million followers on the social media platform.
In the closing laps his superior speed over his team-mate, struggling with grip, put him into second - although not without a fight - and gave him an outside chance of victory.
Ferrari came out on top at Silverstone, a venue where Mercedes have won every year since 2013, with Vettel leaving with an eight-point advantage over Hamilton in the drivers' standings.