- Vettel celebrates another breakthrough. (LAT photo)
Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber to victory as Red Bull Racing took its first Formula 1 win with a commanding one-two in a wet Chinese Grand Prix.
Championship leader Jenson Button had no answer to the Red Bulls' pace and finished a distant third, ahead of his Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello.
The race began with eight laps under the safety car, with drivers in the midfield complaining about standing water and heavy spray.
This was bad news for front row starter Fernando Alonso, who had qualified on a minimal fuel load. Its strategy ruined, Renault opted to bring Alonso for refuelling at the end of the caution, allowing Red Bull to run one-two when the race finally got underway.
Vettel and Webber quickly pulled away from the chasing Brawn duo, who swapped places on lap 10 when Barrichello ran wide at the final corner.
By the time the scheduled pitstops began with Webber stopping on lap 14, Vettel enjoyed a six-second lead over his teammate and a 14s cushion back to Button.
The Brawns were fueled longer than the Red Bulls, but did not have the pace to capitalize on it before the safety car reappeared on lap 18 due to Robert Kubica riding over the back of Jarno Trulli's Toyota at the final corner.
Trulli had been tumbling down the order since the outset, and had to retire with severe rear end damage, but Kubica was able to continue after repairs, although he later made an extra stop when his car's nose section worked loose.
Vettel survived a scare during the safety car period when the yet-to-stop Sebastien Buemi tagged his rear end - in an ironic reversal of Vettel's crash with Webber at Fuji in 2007. Thankfully for Red Bull its car escaped unscathed this time, while Buemi needed a new wing at his pitstop.
Button managed to at least get between the Red Bulls at the stops, but could not keep pace with Vettel after the restart. The German pulled out 4.3s on the first green lap alone, then proceeded to stroll away at 1-2s per lap throughout the middle of the race, as Button came under heavy pressure from Webber.
The Australian grabbed second when Button ran wide at the hairpin on lap 28, only to hand the position back again with his own error at the last corner three laps later.
It mattered little though, for Webber took less than a lap to get back on the Brawn's tail and sweep around the outside at Turn 7
Vettel made his final stop five laps earlier than Button, and rejoined right behind the Brawn. With Button still needing to pit again, Vettel was virtually assured of the victory from that moment, but still made certain of it by outbraking Button into the hairpin on lap 40.
Button pitted and fell back to third shortly afterwards, leaving Vettel and Webber free to stroll home for their breakthrough one-two finish.
Barrichello lost ground queueing behind Button in the pits but regained fourth as others stopped, resisting late pressure from Heikki Kovalainen, who finally delivered an incident-free race for McLaren.
His teammate Lewis Hamilton showed plenty of speed as he charged through the field early on, but a total of five trips off the road consigned him to sixth.
That would have been seventh had Adrian Sutil not aquaplaned into the barriers with five laps to go - ending another exemplary wet weather drive from the German, and denying Force India its first ever points.
Timo Glock flew up the order in the early laps, only to lose time after a tangle with Nick Heidfeld and subsequent wing damage. He still recovered to seventh, with Buemi completing the scorers after an excellent drive that saw him run as high as fourth in the opening stint. Had the safety car not handed the one-stopping cars an advantage, the two-stopping Buemi would have been celebrating a top five finish.
Alonso looked set to score until a late spin at Turn 13, leaving him ninth.
Kimi Raikkonen finished an anonymous 10th, ahead of double spinner Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), having spent most of the race behind overtaken. With Felipe Massa's car failing when running third – thanks to others ahead pitting – behind the safety car, Ferrari has now had its worst start to a season since 1981.
It was also a poor race for Williams. Nico Rosberg pitted under the first safety car and made little progress afterwards. A late gamble on intermediate tires failed to pay off, leaving him 15th, while teammate Kazuki Nakajima made several errors before retiring in the pits.
Nelson Piquet had another disastrous day as well. His Renault required a total of three nose sections after spinning first into a marker board and later into a barrier.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Chinese Grand Prix
Shanghai International Circuit, China;
56 laps; 305.066km;
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1h57:43.485
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 10.970
3. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) + 44.975
4. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) + 1:03.704
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1:05.102
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1:11.866
7. Glock Toyota (B) + 1:14.476
8. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:16.439
9. Alonso Renault (B) + 1:24.309
10. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 1:31.750
11. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:34.156
12. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 1:35.834
13. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 1:46.853
14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 1 lap
16. Piquet Renault (B) + 2 laps
Fastest lap: Barrichello, 1:52.592
Driver Team On lap
Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 51
Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 44
Massa Ferrari (B) 23
Trulli Toyota (B) 19
World Championship standings, round 3:
1. Button 21 1. Brawn GP-Mercedes 36
2. Barrichello 15 2. Red Bull-Renault 19.5
3. Glock 10 3. Toyota 18.5
4. Vettel 10 4. McLaren-Mercedes 8
5. Webber 9.5 5. Renault 4
6. Trulli 8.5 6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
7. Alonso 4 7. BMW Sauber 4
8. Heidfeld 4 8. Williams-Toyota 3.5
9. Hamilton 4
10. Kovalainen 4
11. Rosberg 3.5
12. Buemi 3
13. Bourdais 1
All timing unofficial