Alonso's miserable day would get worse three laps after being told he'd have to pit as the safety car was called to cover the recovery of debris from Pedro de la Rosa's rear wing, which was spread over both the start-finish and Hangar straights. Unable to serve his penalty with the field held under control, the Spaniard's chance of points was effectively over.
When the safety car withdrew after three laps, and Alonso had pitted, Webber led from Hamilton, Rosberg and Button, with Barrichello, Kamui Kobayashi, Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg. The Australian had it all to do again, having seen his lead eroded, but was never really threatened by Hamilton, and was soon able to build a cushion. His team-mate, meanwhile, was handed a second chance at points, having appeared dispirited approaching mid-race.
Now on the tail of easy pickings ahead of him, the German quickly worked his way towards the points. The charging Red Bull was handed tenth when Vitaly Petrov ran wide on lap 37 and, two laps later, accounted for Hulkenberg on the new Wellington Straight. That brought him onto the back of Schumacher as four Germans ran in a line, and the seven-time champion proved a little tougher to deal with. Vettel was not to be denied, however, and, despite Schumacher edging him towards the grass on the run into the Complex, seventh was his with twelve laps to run.
From there, however, Vettel's progress was stunted by a stubborn Sutil, who refused to buckle under relentless pressure from his countryman. Sadly for the home team, however, the Force India driver could not hold out indefinitely and, with a lap to run, Vettel finally muscled his way through exiting the Loop.
There was less excitement at the very front, as Webber was able to back off in the closing stages. Admitting that he was basically racing his pit-board for the majority of the race, the Australian eventually came home just over a second ahead of Hamilton, who reckoned that he was pushing qualifying pace in his pursuit.
Button's hopes of taking third were dented six laps from home, when the McLaren team radioed to tell him to watch his fuel, ending his pursuit of Rosberg. The world champion nevertheless crossed the line just 0.6secs shy of the podium, with Barrichello and Kobayashi nearly ten seconds behind.
Behind Vettel, Sutil, Schumacher and Hulkenberg ensured a solid complement of Germans in the points, while Ferrari was left to lick the wounds of 14th and 15th positions. Lotus won the 'third division' race for the newcomer teams, with Jarno Trulli - who completed just 20-odd laps ahead of the race - leading home Heikki Kovalainen in another 1-2.
Webber ended the race by thanking his crew and announcing that his performance wasn't bad 'for a number two driver', underlining the tensions that were left simmering after qualifying. Christian Horner's congratulations were, at best, tepid, but the team boss will now face a difficult choice should he be forced to make a similar decision on development parts at Hockenheim in two weeks' time. While Hamilton has eased his championship lead out to twelve points over team-mate Button, Webber has now leap-frogged Vettel in pursuit of the McLarens, surely giving him first call.
Oh, what a tangled web....