Something of a slow burner, the Chinese Grand Prix came alive in its second half, with action throughout the field as drivers battled for points.
One man reigned supreme, however, and it wasn't the one many expected as Nico Rosberg made the most of his maiden F1 pole position, made his tyres last and made light of suggestions that his pace only came courtesy of Mercedes' controversial DRS system to cross the line first, some 20 seconds ahead of the field.
McLaren, which had been favourite to win despite starting fifth and seventh, came through to complete the podium, although Jenson Button had a legitimate victory shot scuppered by problems at his final pit-stop.
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, overcame the five-place penalty slapped on him after qualifying - after McLaren was forced to change his gearbox - to transform seventh on the grid into another third at the flag. He now heads the world championship standings by two points from team-mate Button.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel completed the top five after another frustrating showing for Red Bull, although the German battled gamely after qualifying only eleventh, his worst Saturday showing since Brazil 2009.
Romain Grosjean upheld Lotus honour after team-mate Kimi Raikkonen saw a spirited run in second place ended by tyre wear problems on a two-stop strategy and tumbled out of the points in the final few laps. The Frenchman, meanwhile, held on to finish sixth and claim not only his best result, but also his first F1 points.
Williams was back in the points, this time with both drivers as Bruno Senna addeded seventh place to the sixth he achieved in Malaysia and team-mate Pastor Maldonado finally managed to get beyond the penultimate lap in 2012 and open his account after a typical 'fighting' performance.
Fernando Alonso kept Ferrari's points haul ticking over in ninth spot, while Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the scorers in tenth, albeit disappointed not to have made more of his second row starting position.
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