But there was no question as to the identity of the winner, with Fernando Alonso way in front as he crossed the finish line and was greeted by the chequered flag. A relieved Raikkonen came home ten seconds adrift in second place despite that dreadful start, with Hamilton and Vettel crossing the line side-by-side at the climax of their battle for the final podium position.
Arguably the decision to go for grid position at the cost of having the first stint on option tyres had been ratified; but Vettel's fourth place on an alternate three-stop run and Button's run to fifth on just two stops in an arguably below-par car was arguably the strategy of the way in the circumstances.
However, a number of drivers may now have an anxious wait well into the evening, as the race stewards reserved the right to investigate half a dozen different instances of cars overtaking using DRS while yellow flags were being shown on the track. Possibly affected are Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo as well as Marussia's Max Chilton.
Full race results