Sebastian Vettel made it five wins from six grands prix this season by taking his first chequered flag in Monaco at the conclusion of a chaotic and captivating race.
The enthralling event produced two safety cars, the second of which 10 laps from home following an incident involving Jaime Alguersuari in his Toro Rosso and Renault's Vitaly Petrov.
At that stage the three leaders in Vettel, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Jenson Button were separated by a second after following one another, line astern, for the proceeding seven laps.
However, with the ambulance required to attend to Alguersuari and Petrov, who it is understood was knocked unconscious, the race had to be red flagged with six laps remaining.
The remaining cars then lined back up on the grid, at which point the mechanics were allowed to attend to them, notably putting on new tyres.
Restarting behind the safety car for a lap, it left five remaining and unsurprisingly Vettel managed to hold off Alonso and Button.
The 23-year-old German now has a phenomenal 58-point lead over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who was involved in both safety car incidents and twice found himself under investigation by the stewards.
Normally, when the sun is shining over the principality, the race that follows has generally been a procession.
But that was far from the case on this occasion.
Mercifully, pre-race fears over Pirelli's new super-soft tyres that were being introduced for the first time here lasting a handful of laps did not come to fruition.
If that had been the case it could have led to even more mayhem than was the case as there was enough action to create a thriller.
The start was routine enough, with the exception of seven-times world champion and five-times Monaco winner Michael Schumacher losing five places, dropping from fifth to 10th as he was bunched out at the first corner Ste Devote.
The 42-year-old immediately regained a place by passing Hamilton round the inside of the Loews Hairpin, only for a breathtakingly audacious move from the Briton on lap 10 into Ste Devote to regain ninth.
Both men were embroiled in a fair amount of the drama that unfolded as Schumacher later retired, stopping in the middle of the track at La Rascasse.
On this occasion it was legitimate, his Mercedes grinding to a halt, and not as was the case in 2006 when he faked an incident in qualifying to try to win pole.
As for Hamilton, just moments before Schumacher's untimely exit on lap 34 the Briton had attempted to cut down the inside of Felipe Massa in his Ferrari round the Loews Hairpin as they battled for eighth place.
Unlike his earlier daring move, this one failed to pay dividends as bits of both cars were broken off.
Hamilton was not done, however, because with Massa's car clearly the one more affected, the Briton passed the Brazilian through the tunnel.
Adding insult to injury, Massa ran wide on to the marbles which then sucked him on to a barrier, his car emerging into the sunlight with the left-hand side mangled.
It brought the safety car into play for the first time, that even before Schumacher had stopped and was pushed down the pit lane into retirement by the marshals.
At that stage every driver up to Hamilton, running in 11th place, had been lapped, with Rubens Barrichello 67 seconds off the leading trio in fourth such was the dominance of those at the front.
When two of those 11 pitted, it left nine on the same lap, bunching them up behind the safety car which pitted after a handful of laps.
Hamilton's bid for a podium was scuppered, though, as the stewards gave him a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Massa.
Over the following laps, and with Button employing a three-stop plan compared to two stops for Alonso and remarkably just one for Vettel, the trio came together 16 laps from home.
It appeared a battle royale to the line was on the cards, notably as Vettel was on tyres that had been changed at lap 16.
Ten laps from home they came up to lap a gaggle of cars fighting for the minor places behind them, which resulted in the accident involving Alguersuari, who had run into the back of Hamilton, and Petrov.
Even after the restart following a 21-minute delay there was drama as Williams' Pastor Maldonado attempted to pass Hamilton into Ste Devote, resulting in the Venezuelan hitting the McLaren and spinning into a barrier.
That has resulted in a second investigation for Hamilton by the stewards, who are also to look into an incident involving Kamui Kobayashi, who was fifth behind Red Bull's Mark Webber, and seventh-placed Adrian Sutil.
Renault's Nick Heidfeld, Rubens Barrichello in his Williams and Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi completed the top-10 points scorers.
Paul di Resta was 12th in his Force India following an incident-strewn race of his own that involved a drive-through penalty.