Sebastian Vettel led home team-mate Mark Webber as Red Bull dominated a dry Malaysian Grand Prix, free of any competition from McLaren and Ferrari whose drivers had to fight through the field from lowly grid positions.
Vettel got all the hard work done in the first corner as he made a fantastic start and beat Webber on the inside of turn one. After holding off the advances of his team-mate over the next two laps, the Red Bulls almost adopted cruise control to finish comfortably ahead of third-placed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes.
Meanwhile, all the action was taking place further down the field as Lewis Hamilton stormed through the field to finish sixth, behind Robert Kubica in fourth and Adrian Sutil in fifth. Hamilton threw caution to the wind as he passed car after car in his opening stint and climbed from 20th to 10th after just four laps. At times he was a little too aggressive, and was warned by the stewards for excessive weaving on the straight as he passed Vitaly Petrov and then did everything possible to keep the Renault behind him.
Strategy was straight forward for the front runners but Jenson Button took a gamble by pitting for hard tyres after just 10 laps. He later admitted that he made a mistake by starting on the softs, but after swapping to the harder compound, he was able to put in some fast laps and get back into the mix for points as the rest of the field took on their second set of tyres later in the race.
This strategy was at odds with Hamilton's, who started on the hard tyres and made them last well into the race before putting on softs for a dash to the flag. The McLaren duo's paths crossed after Hamilton made his stop, but Button was behind and Hamilton easily pulled away. His charge finally came to an end behind Sutil, who expertly held off the Hamilton and made very good use of his Mercedes-powered Force India down the straights.
However, the McLarens were not alone in coming through the field. Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were also on the charge, even if their strategy required a little less overtaking than Hamilton's. Massa finished seventh just 3.5 seconds behind Hamilton, but beat the other McLaren on the track as Button's tyres felt the strain of a 46-lap stint. Meanwhile, Alonso had been stuck in the draft of Massa for much of the race, as he manhandled a car that was suffering from a gearbox problem while downshifting. He too came up behind Button towards the end of the race, but as he pulled out to make a move into turn one, his engine finally let go and blew-up in a puff of white smoke. That ensured eighth place for Button ahead of Jaime Alguersuari, who had a fantastic race in his Toro Rosso, and Nico Hulkenberg, who picked up his first F1 point in tenth.
Michael Schumacher's race came to a premature end with a wheel-nut failure, forcing the seven-time world champion to watch Rosberg take Mercedes' first 2010 podium from the paddock. His race lasted just nine laps and the retirement means he is now 26 points shy of Rosberg in the drivers' championship.
Lucas di Grassi won the race between the new teams at the back of the field, proving that the Virgin can, in fact, go the distance. He was three laps down on Vettel but ahead of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna in the HRTs. Lotus struggled at their home race as Jarno Trulli finished five laps down and Heikki Kovalainen was ten laps adrift after a mid-race trip to the garage.