Sebastian Vettel held off a late charge from Jenson Button to win a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vettel, starting on pole, only relinquished his lead during the pitstops as he secured his fourth consecutive victory and the twelfth of his career.
Vettel said: “We could control it [the race], but it was never easy. When Jenson was behind me I could control the gap.”
Renault’s Nick Heidfeld joined him and Button on the podium after holding off Mark Webber in the closing laps.
The Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso finished fifth and sixth, ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
But Alonso and Hamilton were penalised after a crash while fighting over third and both had twenty seconds added to their time. Alonso stayed sixth but Hamilton was classified eighth behind Kamui Kobayashi.
Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and Force India’s Paul di Resta finished ninth and tenth respectively. The Brit becomes first rookie to score points finishes in his first two races since Hamilton in 2007.
Vettel, without KERS, led into the first corner from the fast-starting Heidfeld who moved up from sixth. Hamilton and Button followed the two Germans but Webber made a dreadful start slipping from third to tenth.
The top-four stayed as they were until the first round of stops during which Heidfeld slipped to fifth behind the two McLaren’s and Alonso as drizzle hit the track.
Webber’s entertaining comeback drive was epitomised by a thrilling battle with Kobayashi early on as the impact of the new Drag Reduction System (DRS) became evident.
A slow third-stop for Hamilton with twenty laps to go allowed Button to take second and left him in the clutches of the charging Alonso.
Alonso tried to pass Hamilton on lap 46 into turn four but got too close behind the Brit and clipped the McLaren’s right-rear tyre and damaged his front-wing.
The Spaniard pitted for a new front-wing as Hamilton appeared unscathed. But the McLaren slowed as his tyres fell away and was overtaken by Heidfeld and Webber before making a fourth-stop with just four laps left.
He came out just behind Petrov in eighth only for the Russian to spectacularly crash three laps from the finish. Petrov ran wide at turn eight and shot in the air off a grass mound and his steering wheel came off in his lands as he landed.
Alonso was pleased with Ferrari’s performance despite the tangle with Hamilton.
Today we were fighting with the McLarens and Webber – and that was a surprise for us,” he said.
But Hamilton was less happy and appeared very downbeat at the end.
“This is racing, I guess,” Hamilton said dejectedly. “I started second and did everything I could to keep up and I don’t really have too much to say.
“It started [when] I got stuck behind Heidfeld, I had Jenson on my inside and Heidfeld on my outside so squashed into Turn One.
“It was difficult to defend without hitting them but that’s racing sometimes.
“Through the race, my tyres went off, we boxed [pitted] too early, that made us box earlier again, all the time we were boxing early.
“My tyres were done on the end. I have to take it on the chin and see how it goes,” said the 2008 world champion.
Williams and Hispania endured frustrating days as both cars retired. Neither team has managed a finish in the first two races.
They will have to regroup quickly with the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend.