Sebastian Vettel ended his victory drought with a comfortable win in the European Grand Prix in Valencia, while his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was fortunate to emerge uninjured from a massive accident that saw him vault Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus.
Lewis Hamilton took second despite a drive-through penalty, with Jenson Button making it two McLarens on the podium. Ferrari's day was ruined by the safety car for Webber's crash, leaving Fernando Alonso only ninth and Felipe Massa 15th.
Rubens Barrichello gave Williams its best result of the year in fourth, but he and Button are among nine drivers who may yet be penalised for driving too fast during the safety car period.
Webber's bad day began when he lost out severely during an unruly opening lap, which saw wheel-banging and run-off visits throughout the field. The Red Bull was immediately passed by Hamilton and then pounced on by the two Ferraris while out wide. His freefall continued and by the end of lap one Webber had been elbowed all the way back to ninth.
Hamilton's run off the line was so good he was able to get partially alongside Vettel into Turn 1, where firm contact was made, sending the Red Bull slightly sideways and taking a chunk from the McLaren's front wing, though both continued ahead of Alonso, Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Button, the Williams and Webber.
Unable to get through the traffic on-track, Webber made an early pit stop at the end of lap seven, where he lost a few more seconds as his left-front wheel proved stubborn. That put him back out behind Kovalainen, and as he tried to pass the Lotus three laps later he went flying over the back of it on the fast approach to the Turn 17 hairpin.
The Red Bull wiped out an advertising board hanging over the track before landing upside down, rolling back onto its wheels and plowing into the tire barriers, though remarkably Webber climbed out unscathed.
With the safety car called, most drivers from fifth-placed Button back immediately dived into the pits, while the top four had to complete a further lap. Vettel was already past the pit exit by the time the safety car emerged, but Hamilton was right alongside it. After a moment's hesitation, he accelerated past – but having passed the relevant line across the track, that meant he would later be penalised for overtaking the safety car.
Vettel and Hamilton were therefore able to rejoin first and second, while the Ferraris were caught behind the safety car and fell to 10th and 17th – leaving the Italian team furious.
Fortunately for Hamilton, Sauber decided not to pit Kamui Kobayashi under yellow and he jumped up to third. So while the top two charged clear at the restart, which saw Vettel hold the line despite outbraking himself and sliding luridly through the final corner. The Sauber bottled up the rest of the pack, so that by the time race control awarded Hamilton his penalty, he had enough of a gap over Kobayashi to take the drive-through without losing a place.
Hamilton started carving into Vettel's lead, reducing it from 14 to second seconds despite a slight delay behind the battling Timo Glock (Virgin) and Bruno Senna (Hispania), who collided shortly afterwards. But Vettel had pace in hand and was able to answer Hamilton with a new fastest lap five laps from home, putting his second victory of 2010 beyond doubt.
Kobayashi kept Button and the rest of the frontrunners at bay until finally pitting on lap 53, which handed McLaren its second podium spot, ahead of Barrichello, Renault's Robert Kubica and Force India's Adrian Sutil.
The frustrated Alonso spent the final laps all over Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso but ended up losing eighth to Kobayashi as the Sauber rejoined on its fresh tires and dived past the Ferrari with a lap to go. Kobayashi then chased down Buemi too and grabbed seventh at the very last corner.
But these positions may yet be subject to change, with the stewards set to investigate whether Button, the Williams, the Renaults, the Force Indias, Buemi and Pedro de la Rosa exceeded the permitted speed on their way back to the pits under yellow. For now at least, de la Rosa has his first point of the year, gaining 10th when Nico Hulkenberg's Williams retired late on.
Mercedes' weekend got even worse in the race, with Nico Rosberg losing ground on the first lap and finishing 12th, and Michael Schumacher wrong-footed during the safety car and ending up 16th after multiple pit stops.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The European Grand Prix
57 laps; 310.080km;
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h40:29.571
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 5.042
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 7.658
4. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 20.627
5. Kubica Renault + 22.122
6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 25.168
7. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 30.965
8. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 31.299
9. Alonso Ferrari + 32.809
10. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 42.414
11. Petrov Renault + 43.287
12. Rosberg Mercedes + 44.382
13. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 45.890
14. Massa Ferrari + 46.621
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 48.239
16. Schumacher Mercedes + 48.826
17. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 4 laps
Fastest lap: Button, 1:38.766
Driver Team On lap
Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 50
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 9
Webber Red Bull-Renault 9
World Championship standings, round 9:
1. Hamilton 127 1. McLaren-Mercedes 248
2. Button 121 2. Red Bull-Renault 218
3. Vettel 115 3. Ferrari 163
4. Webber 103 4. Mercedes 108
5. Alonso 96 5. Renault 89
6. Kubica 83 6. Force India-Mercedes 43
7. Rosberg 74 7. Williams-Cosworth 20
8. Massa 67 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12
9. Schumacher 34 9. Sauber-Ferrari 8
10. Sutil 31
11. Barrichello 19
12. Liuzzi 12
13. Buemi 9
14. Kobayashi 7
15. Petrov 6
16. Alguersuari 3
17. Hulkenberg 1
18. De la Rosa 1
All timing unofficial