Red Bull finally delivered the kind of crushing performance it had threatened to all season as Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber home in a 1-2 demonstration run in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Nico Rosberg gave the new Mercedes works team its first podium in third, although his teammate Michael Schumacher was an early retirement, while the McLarens and Ferraris all recovered into the top 10following their qualifying miscues, although Fernando Alonso suffered a last-gasp engine failure.
The potential for downpours and chaos had dominated conversation in the build-up, but ironically the race was dry throughout. Vettel got a great start from third, instantly passing Rosberg and slipping down the inside of Webber into the first corner to take the lead.
The two Red Bulls then pulled away from the Mercedes in formation, remaining a second or so apart until their pit stops on laps 23 and 24, where any chance of Webber threatening Vettel was removed when an airgun problem on his right-front wheel meant his tire change took a crucial 1.4sec longer. That briefly put Webber behind the yet-to-stop Lewis Hamilton, and gave Vettel a clean break. He duly cruised clear to clinch his and Red Bull's first win of 2010.
Rosberg was a safe third throughout, but the second Mercedes of Schumacher dropped out on lap eight when its left-rear wheel came loose.
Robert Kubica continued Renault's strong form with fourth, never quite close enough to scare Rosberg, and safe from attack from behind as fifth-placed Adrian Sutil (Force India) had his hands full resisting Hamilton by the end.
Hamilton made the most assertive progress of the displaced front-runners, getting into the top 10 within seven laps, despite being warned for excessive weaving during a spectacular battle with Renault rookie Vitaly Petrov, and ultimately rising as high as second as he left his pit stop until lap 30.
He emerged right alongside teammate Jenson Button, who had pitted as early as lap 10, but it was Hamilton's strategy that proved best, as the younger Briton fended off his teammate and then quickly pulled away, leaving Button at the mercy of the charging Ferraris. Felipe Massa had run until lap 28 before pitting, while Fernando Alonso, who had struggled with a downshift problem all race and been low key in the early stages, stayed on hards until lap 36, and then set a string of fastest laps as he charged into contention.
Massa eventually got past Button and then closed on Sutil and Hamilton, while Alonso remained stuck behind Button until he dived past with two laps to go, only for his Ferrari's engine to immediately fail as he completed the move. Alonso's retirement means Massa edges into the championship lead.
Jaime Alguersuari earned his first Formula 1 points with the finest drive of his career to date, as he determinedly battled past Nico Hulkenberg and Petrov to ultimately take ninth.
Williams could not capitalize on its strong qualifying result, with Rubens Barrichello tumbling to last at the start thanks to an overheating clutch, and Hulkenberg losing a few positions on lap one then dropping further back as his early tire stop strategy failed to pay off. He at least picked up 10th thanks to Alonso's late failure.
The battle between the new teams turned physical in Malaysia. Virgin's Timo Glock retired on lap three when a bid to overtake Jarno Trulli saw him spin into the Lotus, while Heikki Kovalainen's attempted pass on Virgin driver Lucas di Grassi seven laps later caused more contact, the Lotus slicing a rear tire on the Virgin's front wing as it slid past sideways.
It was di Grassi who ultimately emerged on top, giving Virgin its first race finish as he nursed its inadequate fuel level to the flag and finished ahead of the two Hispanias. Trulli made the flag despite backing right off with hydraulic problems at the end, with similar issues forcing Kovalainen to lose several laps in the pits.
Also hitting mechanical trouble were Petrov, Force India's Tonio Liuzzi, and both Saubers, Pedro de la Rosa striking engine problems on his way from the garage to the grid.
For a list of all stories from today's race, click here.
The Malaysian Grand Prix
Sepang F1 Circuit, Malaysia;
56 laps; 310.408km;
Pos Driver Team Gap
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.8s
3. Rosberg Mercedes + 13.5s
4. Kubica Renault + 18.5s
5. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 21.0s
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 23.4s
7. Massa Ferrari + 27.0s
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 37.9s
9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m10.6s
10. Hulkenberg Williams + 1m13.3s
11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m18.9s
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Alonso Ferrari + 2 laps
14. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
15. Chandhok Hispania-Cosworth + 3 laps
16. Senna Hispania-Cosworth + 4 laps
17. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 5 laps
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 46 laps
Petrov Renault 32 laps
Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 12 laps
Schumacher Mercedes 9 laps
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 8 laps
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2 laps
De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 0 laps
Fastest lap: Webber 1m37.054s
World Championship standings, round 3:
1. Massa 39 1. Ferrari 76
2. Vettel 37 2. McLaren-Mercedes 66
3. Alonso 37 3. Red Bull-Renault 61
4. Button 35 4. Mercedes 44
5. Rosberg 35 5. Renault 30
6. Hamilton 31 6. Force India-Mercedes 18
7. Kubica 30 7. Williams-Cosworth 6
8. Webber 24 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2
9. Sutil 10
10. Schumacher 9
11. Liuzzi 8
12. Barrichello 5
13. Alguersuari 2
14. Hulkenberg 1