Vergne was just a second ahead of rookie Valtteri Bottas at the flag, the Finn having recovered from dropping to the tail of the field at the start. The Williams driver was also one of a handful to slither off the road on their way to the grid, as the tricky conditions affecting half the circuit caught them out, with Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Pastor Maldonado and Webber all taking to the grass and gravel.
Ricciardo and Maldonado joined Alonso, Button and the Force Indias in retirement, while Gutierrez came home as the first of the lapped runners, albeit comfortably ahead of the usual 'back four', headed by the impressive Jules Bianchi, who enjoyed Sepang's faster corners in the Marussia.
Unsurprisingly, the podium ceremony was awkward, to say the least, with Webber speaking his mind when asked for his thoughts, Vettel appearing contrite and Hamilton suggesting that it should have been his team-mate on the bottom step rather than him. The Australian later revealed that he had a lot going through his mind over the last few laps, and will no doubt use the three-week break between Malaysia and China to ponder further.
In the meantime, Red Bull – which notably cancelled the traditional team victory photo opportunity – appears to have a few bridges to rebuild...