Red Bull finally delivered the kind of crushing performance it had threatened to all season as Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber home in a one-two demonstration run at Sepang.
Nico Rosberg gave the new Mercedes works team its first podium in third, although his team-mate Michael Schumacher was an early retirement, while the McLarens and Ferraris all recovered into the top ten following 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.
Rosberg was a safe third throughout and Robert Kubica continued Renault's strong form with fourth, safe from attack from behind as fifth-placed Adrian Sutil had his hands full resisting Hamilton by the end.
Hamilton made the most assertive progress of the displaced frontrunners, getting into the top ten 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 pitstop until lap 30.
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. However, it was a good race for the Hispania Racing team with Karun Chandhok scoring his second race finish alongside team-mate Bruno Senna, who also managed to take the chequered flag for the first time this season.