Sebastian Vettel grabbed only his second win of the year as Lewis Hamilton was forced to settle for second best again in the European Grand Prix.
The Red Bull star effectively led from start to finish as a safety car deployed following a frightening accident involving team-mate Mark Webber shook up the field.
But Vettel and McLaren's Hamilton, despite serving a drive-through penalty for passing the safety car, managed to hold onto the top two spots, with Jenson Button completing the podium.
Webber's horrifying smash again underlined the strength of a modern Formula One car and the stringent safety measures in place.
In theory, it all stemmed from Webber's woeful start as the 33-year-old trailed ninth after the opening lap of 57, despite being alongside Vettel on the front row of the grid.
It prompted an early stop for fresh tyres for Webber at the end of lap seven, relegating him to 19th and in amongst the backmarkers.
Two laps later, and with Webber shaping for a move on Heikki Kovalainen, the Australian misjudged his manoeuvre.
It resulted in the front right of Webber's car catching the rear left of Kovalainen's Lotus, the team this weekend celebrating their 500th grands prix.
On the fastest part of the circuit, approaching around 190mph, the impact launched the Red Bull into a somersault through the air.
The car then crash landed upside down on its nose, missing a barrier by inches which could have resulted in far more serious consequences, bouncing off the tarmac onto the rear and somehow then righting itself.
At that stage, and with momentum, Webber was nothing more than a passenger as he proceeded to career across the run-off area at turn 12 before ploughing into, and bouncing off of a tyre barrier.
Despite the impact, Webber was mercifully immediately seen throwing his steering wheel out of the cockpit before then removing the HANS (head and neck support) system.
Unsurprisingly, it immediately brought the safety car into play, at which point a host of cars dived into the pits to take on a new set of tyres.
Out in front, Vettel and Hamilton managed to hold their station, and seemingly without consternation.
The big winner was Button who had been the first into the pits, the Briton rising to fourth from sixth behind Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, who had decided to stay out on his initial set of rubber.
But it soon transpired Hamilton had seemingly overtaken the safety car as it made its way onto the track, resulting in the penalty.
Overhead footage showed the call from the stewards was marginal as he was alongside when it took to the track, but he managed to stay second.
The big losers were Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who were running third and fourth until the accident, only to drop to ninth and 15th.
Given three laps before being forced to serve his penalty, Hamilton proceeded to put his foot down, setting the fastest lap at one stage.
At the end of lap 27, and with a 14-second gap to Kobayashi behind him, Hamilton came in, having just enough in hand to emerge back on track still in second place.
From that moment, other than mechanical failure, there was never going to be any doubt as to how the top two would cross the line.
But the stewards had not finished for the day because with 13 laps remaining they announced a second investigation into nine cars, chief amongst them Button, for driving too fast when the safety car was out.
The other drivers being looked at are Williams' Rubens Barrichello, Renault's Robert Kubica and the Force India of Adrian Sutil, who were fourth, fifth and sixth.
Others are Sebastien Buemi in his Toro Rosso, who was eighth and 10th-placed Pedro de la Rosa in his Sauber, as well as Williams' Nico Hulkenberg, who retired late on, Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who was 11th and Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi who was 13th.
Alonso, apparently furious with the stewards' late call on Hamilton, was eighth at the conclusion.
In the championship, Hamilton and Button head into the British Grand Prix one and two separated by six points, at least for now depending on the stewards, with Vettel up to third, 12 points down.
Vettel, following the seventh win of his career and second this year, said: "It's about time I won from pole.
"What has happened has happened, we can't change it, but on a track where we weren't expected to be strong, I've made it.
"It's good to get a lot of points, good for the championship, so I'm pleased for today.
"The most important thing Mark is fine. I asked on the radio and I am glad he is okay."
Explaining his penalty, Hamilton said: "As I was coming round turn one, I saw the safety car was pretty much alongside me.
"I thought I had passed it, so I continued and that was it."
On the race, he said: "Seb and I touched at turn one, and then I had a vibration and I was worried something was wrong.
"After that I tried to bring the car home in one piece."
Button, happy with his place on the podium, said: "Starting seventh and finishing third, I was definitely helped by the safety car.
"That was good, but then I got stuck behind Kobayashi. As soon as he pulled in, I had three laps at the end in which I had some fun.
"But it's a great result for the whole team - second and third.
"Now we'll just have to see what happens with the stewards."