Hamilton is searching for a record-breaking sixth win at Silverstone but a wobble on his last lap in the shootout for pole saw him fall agonizingly short of the Finn’s time.
Charles Leclerc impressed for Ferrari to claim third with his teammate Sebastian Vettel languishing back in sixth.
“It feels very good,” Bottas said after qualifying. “It reminds me why you do it, for these kinds of feelings. It’s been pretty close all weekend and today with Lewis, I’m just really, really happy to get a good lap and get pole.”
A disappointed groan went up from the partizan home crowd when the deficit of six milliseconds flashed up on the big screen.
Fans flock to this Mecca of British motorsport in their droves every year and British flags adorned the stands at every turn.
“It’s the best grand prix of the whole year and it’s because of the energy the people bring,” Hamilton said. “The tracks are great, the layouts and designs but without people like this to fill it and bring energy, its nothing.
“We’ve got the best energy in England.”
Hamilton and the thousands of visiting supporters will be given hope ahead of Sunday’s race by Bottas’ record when starting from pole this season, having failed to convert two of his three starts from the front of the grid into victories.
The 29-year-old — 31 points behind championship leader Hamilton and chasing his first world title — admitted in his press conference that it’s a weakness he’s been trying to address.
It was Hamilton who profited on both those occasions, converting starts from second into victories in China and Spain.
After a strong start to the season in which Bottas and Hamilton could barely be separated, the Finn has endured a dip in form but victory at Silverstone would reignite his title bid.