Sebastian Vettel had the Indian Grand Prix under control from the first lap of the race and took his 11th win of the season.
He was never threatened by Jenson Button, who finished second, while Mark Webber slipped to fourth behind Fernando Alonso.
Alonso had lost ground at the start as he ran wide at the first corner, falling behind Button. As they came onto the long back straight Button lined up Webber and took second place.
Behind them several cars had made contact: Rubens Barrichello lost his front wing at the first corner and ran wide, pushing Kamui Kobayashi off.
The Sauber driver drove into the path of Timo Glock when he returned to the track. The pair made contact, which ultimately put both out.
As they reached turn three Narain Karthikeyan hit Jarno Trulli, tipping the Lotus into a spin, but both continued.
Vettel set about extending his customary advantage at the start. Webber had a couple of looks at Button in the DRS zone, enough to force the McLaren driver to defend, but not enough to make a pass.
Behind them were the two Ferraris, Felipe Massa having passed Lewis Hamilton off the line.
The two Mercedes were next, Michael Schumacher behind Nico Rosberg. Like Vettel in Korea, Schumacher had avoided using his KERS when the lights went out, using it all on the long back straight, and moving up to eighth.
Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna were behind them but they soon came under attack from the Toro Rossos. Using their superior straight line speed and the added boost of the DRS zone, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi both moved ahead. Senna complained his KERS wasn’t working as he fell back into the clutches of Pastor Maldonado.
By lap 17 Vettel’s lead had stabilised at just over four seconds. Webber, Alonso and Hamilton pitted together shortly after. Vettel and Button stayed out the next time by but Massa did come in.
Massa and Hamilton clash again
On lap 24 Massa made a slight mistake at turn one and suddenly Hamilton was all over him. On the next lap Hamilton had a run at the Ferrari going into turn five.
Massa moved to defend his position but Hamilton was able to get down the inside of the Ferrari. Massa turned in, and contact was as inevitable as it was avoidable.
The stewards concluded Massa had caused the latest collision between the two and handed him a drive-through penalty. Hamilton had to pit for a new front wing.
Massa’a race quickly went off the rails as he had to switch to the unfavourable hard tyres – a legacy of having lost a set of softs during his qualifying crash. The vibrating front wing from practice made a reappearance and shortly afterwards he was out of the race.
Heading into turn nine Massa hid the kerb on the inside and suffered a repeat of his suspension failure from qualifying. The visibly unhappy Ferrari driver stalked back to the pits.
None of this troubled Vettel who was troubled only by the occasional dawdling backmarker on his way to victory. Button closed on him during the pit stops, Vettel pitting after the McLaren driver on their two visits, but was always able to re-establish his lead.
Alonso closed on Webber during the second stint and the Red Bull driver made an early switch to hard tyres, hoping to preserve his advantage. It didn’t work: Alonso came out of his final pit stop back in front of the Red Bull driver.
Schumacher jumps past Rosberg
The Mercedes drivers also traded places at the final round of pit stops. Schumacher stayed out longer on the soft tyres to jump ahead of his team mate and claim fifth.
Hamilton progressed no further than seventh, complaining of understeer in his McLaren after the contact with Massa. Alguersuari claimed eighth for Toro Rosso but his team mate retired halfway through.
Senna ran in the points towards the end of the race but it was an illusion – he hadn’t made his mandatory switch to hard tyres and once he did he slipped to 12th.
That promoted Sutil and Sergio Perez. The latter used the opposite strategy to Senna, starting the race on hard tyres and getting rid of them early, going on to claim the final point.
Vitaly Petrov did likewise and had a couple of scruffy off-track moment on his way to 11th. Paul di Resta was another driver who started the race on hard tyres, hoping for an early safety car period which never happened. He finished 13th.
The Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen was 14th having run as high as tenth during the race. He finished ahead of the delayed Barrichello.
Behind Jerome d’Ambrosio, Narain Karthikyean brought his HRT home ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who made an extra pit stop late in the race. Trulli was the final runner.
With both titles already won, Vettel continues to amass more records. Today he had his first perfect result (pole, win, fastest lap, led every lap) and set a new record for most laps led during a season.
The Indian Grand Prix may have been a new event at a new track. But with Vettel continuing his domination, another run-in for Massa and Hamilton, and Webber and Alonso battling for position, the race had a decidedly familiar feel.
2011 Indian Grand Prix
Image © Red Bull/Getty images