So great an advantage had he built up, though, that when Rosberg rejoined he did so in front of Coulthard, with Hamilton still desperately trying to find a way past the Scot. As Fisichella pitted with 32 laps remaining, Webber's earlier 'error' would ultimately transpire to be a failure on his RB4, the unfortunate Australian becoming the race's third retirement after Piquet and Barrichello.
With Trulli four laps away from his one and only pit-stop, Alonso sat eleven seconds behind and the chase was on, whilst down at the bottom of the order Kubica swept past erstwhile leader Massa, whose fuel supply was beginning to run out. Happily, the Brazilian's second stop on lap 31 went without drama or injury.
Trulli rejoined from his pit visit ahead of Nakajima, who immediately made energetic efforts to get past the Toyota for the second time during the race, the Italian's heavy fuel load again badly hampering his pace – but allowing Alonso, from all the way down in 15th on the grid, to make hay at the front, lapping almost two seconds faster than fourth-placed Hamilton, who was still tucked up behind fellow Brit Coulthard.
Raikkonen, though, was even worse off, cruising up to the back of the Trulli-Nakajima duel for eighth place, as Ferrari's day went from bad to disastrous. The Williams ace got through, leaving Trulli to stave off the attentions of Raikkonen, who similarly took little time to get past a car that – with fuel on-board – was something of a sitting duck.
With 22 laps remaining, Alonso had a margin of eight seconds over second-placed Rosberg, and more than 20 seconds ahead of the ongoing third-placed Battle of Britain between Coulthard and Hamilton. Rosberg was the first of the four to make his final pit-stop, switching over to the less-favoured softer rubber and rejoining seventh behind the German trio of Glock, Vettel and BMW's Nick Heidfeld.
Alonso was in next time around, the Spaniard having used his softer tyres during the first stint of the race, and came out again right in front of the duelling Coulthard and Hamilton. The subsequent loss of momentum for the former enabled Hamilton to dive up the inside in a brave move for third place – meaning the podium was back on again, or perhaps even better…
Both Hamilton and Coulthard were in at the end of the lap, and there was fear of a second 'Massa' incident in the RBR box when the Scot pulled away a fraction too soon, the loss of time seeing the 37-year-old fall behind Trulli.
With 17 laps remaining, second-placed Glock and fourth-placed Raikkonen still had to pit for the second time, as Hamilton began to chase down Rosberg, just over ten seconds up the road from him and Coulthard sat outside the points in ninth – and losing brakes in his Red Bull.
Glock came in for a quick second stop with 15 laps to the chequered flag, rejoining the fray ahead of Toyota team-mate Trulli, the pair running fifth and sixth, though with the latter still under pressure from behind from Vettel and Heidfeld.
Trulli, indeed, was sadly the next man in difficulty, his Toyota suddenly slowing with a gearbox problem that left his TF108 stuck in fourth gear as he had been looking good for points, allowing Raikkonen to rejoin from his second stop in fifth place.