In a marathon two hour time limited race, strategies were thrown out the window by an ill-timed safety car that dragged on for six laps.
Daniel Ricciardo finished third, dragging his Red Bull through the race with multiple technical problems keeping him from the fight for second.
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
Sebastian Vettel's continuing bad luck struck again in Singapore with an oil pressure problem robbing him of one of his five "free" engines. While his team didn't have to fit a sixth engine for the race, it won't be far away.
Ferrari were the surprise package around the street circuit in practice with Alonso and Raikkonen both figuring strongly.
Red Bull took a while to get going but Ricciardo led Vettel in practice and qualifying to end P3 for the start.
The threat of an on-form Raikkonen faded along with his software which prevented the Finn from completing his final run for pole. He ended up seventh while Alonso managed fifth.
Hamilton just beat a frustrated Rosberg to pole by just seven thousdanths of a second, despite locking up into turn one.
Romain Grosjean's valiant attempt to make it into Q3 failed and he let his team know how terrible he thinks his Renault power unit is. The FIA haven't yet got around to banning this type of radio transmission.
Rosberg's qualifying frustration got even worse before the race as he reported a problem with his gearbox on his way out to the grid.
He returned to his garage for some rapid repairs, including two steering wheel change, and was able to take his place on the number one spot.
The team weren't confident the problem was fixed and they were right - he was unable to get his car moving.
We were treated to the strange sight of him winding his steering wheel from lock-to-lock as the field streamed by. He was pushed into pitlane.
Poor Kamui Kobayashi didn't get much further in his Caterham, his car expiring at turn eight on the parade lap.
The grid formed minus Roberg and Kobayashi. Vettel and Alonso got great starts, both getting past Ricciardo. While Vettel monstered Ricciardo,
Alonso shot through the run-off area and won himself a huge advantage. He quickly handed the place to Vettel to successfully avoid a sanction.
Hamilton made the most of his position, leading by 1.6 seconds by the end of the first lap while his German rival was stuck at the rear with a huge battle ahead - he could only shift gears, he had no clutch which would be quite a problem at the pit stops.
Both Vettel and Ricciardo battled niggling technical problems early, with Ricciardo suffering high temperatures.
Sutil pitted on lap nine, signalling the first of the three-stoppers. The first top ten car was Massa on lap 11.
Rosberg was still stuck behind Marcus Ericsson as Raikkonen pitted on lap 12, pulling out into pitlane ahead of Bottas. Massa's early stop got him ahead of Raikkonen.
Out on track, Perez passed Gutierrez the old-fashioned way to take seventh place. Vettel, Ricciardo and Alonso pitted together and amazingly Ricciardo didn't have to wait - Red Bull cleared the box in time for the Australian to pit.
Hamilton pitted at the end of lap thirteen and he had a trouble-free run in and out, which is more than could be said for Rosberg's stop on lap fourteen.
The erstwhile championship leader had no clutch or pit-lane limiter. He stalled the car as it came in (as instructed) and the team changed his steering wheel. He was then was supposed to get first gear before being dropped from the jacks to continue.
It didn't happen and he was finally told to park the car, something Rosberg wasn't happy to do, urging his team to try everything.
It later transpired the problem was a broken wiring loom.
Jean-Eric Vergne didn't have the same luck with the stewards as Alonso - he was hit with his first penalty for exceeding the track limits.
Gutierrez brought the car into the garage on lap eighteen, throwing his gloves in frustration and kicking some equipment before stalking out of the Sauber pit box, his fifth retirement for the year. His ERS had failed and wasn't charging his battery.
Massa again pitted earlier than his immediate competitors, on lap 23, with Bottas in a lap later.
Maldonado's stop nearly ended in tears as he pulled away with a wheel gun still attached. Alonso followed Massa's lead and pitted early in an attempt to jump Vettel. It worked handsomely, with Alonso picking up 4.6 seconds on the Red Bull.
Vettel switched to soft compound tyres, the slower, in an attempt to be on the faster rubber for his final stint.
Hamilton had a slow stop on lap 27, stationary for nearly five seconds as his crew cleared debris from his front wing. He relinquished the lead to Ricciardo, but had a fifteen second lead over third-placed Alonso.
Kevin Magnussen found himself in the hot seat at McLaren - literally.
He radioed to his pit that his seat was becoming very hot, but his team seemed unmoved, telling him to keep racing Vergne. He later told his team that his drinks bottle was delivering hot, burning liquid.
Grosjean complained to the stewards via team radio, feeling Perez had crowded him. Replays showed the two touching wheels, but Grosjean had come from a long, long way back and replays showed Perez had given him as much room as possible.
A couple of laps later, having done the right thing with Grosjean, Perez was crowded to the wall by Sutil. The ensuing contact knocked Perez's wing askew before it disintegrated, showering the track with debris, bringing out the safety car.
Alonso pitted, losing his place to Ricciardo, hoping to complete 29 laps on the harder of the tyres. Alonso's move was mirrored by Button, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Maldonado, Bianchi and Ericsson.
After the stops, Hamilton was followed by Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso, Massa, Bottas, Button, Raikkonen, Vergne and Magnussen.
Ricciardo continued to nurse a problem with his car's power unit which seemed not to be delivering as much power as he might have expected while Valtteri Bottas complained of his steering feeling sticky.
The safety car finally returned to the puts at the end of lap 37 after its lengthy six lap intervention.
Hamilton streaked away as the Red Bulls squabbled over second and third and Alonso fended off Massa in the Williams.
The safety car saw feverish activity on pitwalls as teams calculated how to get to the end without changing tyres.
Hamilton's strategy appeared to be get miles ahead and have time to change tyres while those behind on the harder compound stretched their rubber mileage.
Daniil Kvyat was suffering the same problem as Magnussen, imploring his team to be able to stop - "I need a drink, I'm dying here."
With the race looking to go to time rather than distance, Hamilton's dilemma became clear - to win, he would have to pit and then fight for the lead.
Perez pulled off a two-car pass on lap 49, getting by Kvyat who was preoccupied with passing Ericsson.
On lap 51, an increasingly nervous Hamilton begged to be allowed back in to the pits. His pitwall told him he was doing well and still pulling out the gap as Vettel's tyres began to give. He finally was allowed in on lap 53 for the soft tyres.
Vettel took the lead and Hamilton very nearly lost second to Ricciardo. With eleven minutes remaining, he had to pass Vettel for the lead.
The gap started at around 1.5 seconds and within a few corners was less than a second. After a lap, Hamilton took the lead and drove away from the Red Bull.
Jenson Button's race was over on the same lap as his car shut down, apparently after bouncing across a kerb.
Kevin Magnussen denied Pastor Maldonado his first championship point in a very long time with a brave pass around the outside of the Lotus driver, taking tenth. Vergne copped another five second stop-go penalty, having passed outside of the track limits.
Ricciardo said after the race his battery problems cost him a chance at victory.
"We definitely had a few issues and we tried fixing them but to be honest we didn't quite clear it all up," he said.
"I guess it did cost us a bit today but obviously we still got it to the end."
He didn't let that slow him down, overtaking three cars in a bid to stay in the points after his penalty was applied - it worked, ending sixth with an eight second margin.
Hamilton crossed the line as the race reached the two hour limit on lap sixty. With Rosberg's misfortune, he not only took the victory but the championship lead.
Formula 1 returns in two weeks for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.
- Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 2h00m04.795s
- Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull/Renault +13.534s
- Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault +14.273s
- Fernando Alonso - Ferrari +15.389s
- Felipe Massa - Williams/Mercedes +42.161s
- Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso/Renault +56.801s
- Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes +59.038s
- Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +1m00.641s
- Nico Hulkenberg - Force India/Mercedes +1m01.661s
- Kevin Magnussen - McLaren/Mercedes +1m02.230s
- Valtteri Bottas - Williams/Mercedes +1m05.065s
- Pastor Maldonado - Lotus/Renault +1m06.915s
- Romain Grosjean - Lotus/Renault +1m08.029s
- Daniil Kvyat - Toro Rosso/Renault +1m12.008s
- Marcus Ericsson - Caterham/Renault +1m34.188s
- Jules Bianchi - Marussia/Ferrari +1m34.543s
- Max Chilton - Marussia/Ferrari +1 Lap
- Jenson Button - McLaren/Mercedes - Electrical
- Adrian Sutil - Sauber/Ferrari - Water leak
- Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber/Ferrari - Electrical
- Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - Wiring loom
- Kamui Kobayashi - Caterham/Renault - Not started