Mark Webber finished seventh after fading with tyre trouble in his 200th F1 race. Young Australian Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso didn't have the pace it had in China, finishing a lap down in sixteenth.
The race was hectic from the first corner, with battles up and down the field and aggressive driving providing thrilling racing.
Ferrari had a terrible race, with both cars running into trouble but Force India were able to convert a strong qualifying performance to fourth for Paul di Resta.
Practice and Qualifying
Ferrari and Lotus traded top times while Red Bull were never far away from the front.
Lewis Hamilton copped a five place grid penalty even before qualifying after a crash in practice three saw a new gearbox fitted as part of the rebuild.
Nico Rosberg came out of nowhere and took his first pole since 2012, three tenths ahead of Vettel.
Alonso was behind with Hamilton fourth and the Lotuses were well back, despite their Friday pace.
With penalties, Webber's fifth became eighth became seventh, Hamilton fell to ninth and Raikkonen up to eighth. Massa moved forward to fourth with both Force Indias behind him.
Rosberg made an aggressive start, crowding Vettel to the inside of the circuit, keeping him behind. Alonso pushed past the Red Bull, but the German came back a few corners later and set off after Rosberg.
Vettel attacked Rosberg again at turn one on lap two but the Mercedes driver blocked forcefully to keep the Red Bull behind him. Vettel grabbed the lead next time around and Rosberg started his rearward slide.
Pic and Vergne clashed at the back of the field, with the Toro Rosso getting a puncture and the Caterham losing its front wing.
The other Caterham of van der Garde got involved with Esteban Gutierrez, the Sauber shredding its wing against the green car's gearbox.
Perez got a good start and got in front of Raikkonen while Button also made up a few places, the McLaren race pace markedly better than qualifying. Webber settled into sixth.
Lap three saw Alonso sail past Rosberg at the start of the straight who then returned the favour at turn one. The other Force India of Sutil pitted, a great shame after a solid qualifying, suffering contact with the Ferrari of Massa.
Once again Alonso took second from Rosberg on lap five and kept it. Rosberg lost another place to di Resta while Hamilton languished in 11th, saying after the race that he had no grip unti his second stop.
Up front, Vettel pulled out a 3.5 second lead while a pack of five battled for third, fourth and fifth.
Alonso had an embarrassing failure on lap 8, his DRS jamming open. He pitted immediately, took on fresh tyres while the team performed percussive maintenance on the errant flap.
The wing failed again the next lap and he had to return, losing DRS for the race.
Webber pitted on lap 9 to get out from behind Massa and Rosberg, seemingly in good shape with a flexible tyre strategy.
Vettel pitted when he saw Webber was a whole second quicker in a single sector on new tyres. Massa's hard tyre gamble amounted to nothing, pitted with the medium tyre runners.
Rosberg continued sliding backwards towards his teammate, with Button taking seventh from him, after the McLaren had stopped and Rosberg hadn't. This left di Resta in the lead, with Raikkonen close behind.
Vettel took the lead by passing Raikkonen and di Resta pitting. The Red Bull driver was pushing extremely hard. Webber made it to third, just 7.3 seconds behind his teammate.
Raikkonen's stop came on lap 16 and was almost derailed by his front jackman not getting out of the way quickly enough. He came out behind Hulkenberg, who was running ninth.
Massa pitted for the second time, this time an unscheduled stop with a damaged right rear tyre, his and Ferrari's races looking pretty dire by this stage. He would get yet another puncture later in the race, leaving him out of the points.
Webber pitted on lap 22 for the second time and Button pitted behind him. Webber rejoined in ninth, ahead of the titanic battle being waged between Rosberg and Perez, with the Mercedes driver using the whole track to stay ahead.
He came back at the McLaren the next lap, who was then under attack from Button. After a five lap battle, Button made his way past Perez.
di Resta and Grosjean also had an entertaining battle, the Scot passing the Lotus driver who did his best to hold him back.
Perez and Button continued their battle, the pair of them wrestling over fifth place, the Mexican knocking an endplate off his own front wing. The message went out to settle down.
The younger McLaren driver refused to give up, with Grosjean getting a grandstand view of the McLarens touching again. Grosjean moved in on Perez and took him the next lap.
He got past Button a lap later, allowing the two McLarens to resume hostilties.
Button said after the race that Perez was too aggressive. "At 300km/h, you don't expect your teammate to bang wheels with you." Perez saw it as even, saying he was as agressive as Button.
Raikkonen, too, was in the passing mood and got past di Resta with a simple DRS move. He pitted a lap later for the second and final time while Button came in to get out of Perez's sights.
After his second stop, Lewis Hamilton appeared almost from nowhere, passing Perez for fifth as di Resta pitted from second. His car came to him on the new tyres and he was able to race, despite needing to save fuel.
Webber pitted again on lap 38 and came out ahead of Button and Rosberg. Rosberg threw his car down the inside of Webber and came off second best as he piled into Webber's sidepod. The stewards deemed Webber at fault, but he got off with a reprimand.
Vettel made his final stop on lap 43, with an entire pit stop's worth of gap back to second-placed Grosjean, who ducked into the pits and made it out in front of Button by the tiniest of margins.
Fernando Alonso, having stopped four times, managed to find himself in eighth place behind Perez. Button ran into tyre trouble, losing his place to both Perez and Alonso, before pitting.
Grosjean set off after di Resta on much fresher tyres, taking huge chunks of time from him and, eventually, third place.
Hamilton's march continued, the Mercedes driver drawing up behind Webber who had faded to fifth. He flew past Webber on lap 50. Webber re-passed him three laps later, but Hamilton persisted.
Webber defended hard, hoping to kill Hamilton's tyres, with the two going wheel-to-wheel at almost every opportunity. Hamilton finally passed on lap 56, with Webber then passed by Perez, dropping him back to seventh.
"The beginning wasn't too bad, but we lost quite a bit of time in the second stint trying to clear people. We went aggressive on the first few out laps, which meant we jumped people, but the tyres didn't like it," Webber said.
di Resta lost third place to Grosjean on lap 52, giving Lotus two-thirds of the podium after a mystifyingly slow qualifying.
Vettel took the flag as he did in 2012, with Raikkonen and Grosjean in the same places as a year ago.
Pole sitter Rosberg finished ninth while the McLarens proved to be fast in race trim while Alonso, despite losing DRS and pitting four times, finished eighth.
Formula 1 returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks.
- Vettel - Red Bull-Renault | 57 laps
- Raikkonen - Lotus-Renault | + 9.1s
- Grosjean - Lotus-Renault | + 19.5s
- Di Resta - Force India-Mercedes | + 21.7s
- Hamilton - Mercedes | + 35.2s
- Perez - McLaren-Mercedes | + 35.9s
- Webber - Red Bull-Renault | + 37.2s
- Alonso - Ferrari | + 37.5s
- Rosberg - Mercedes | + 41.1s
- Button - McLaren-Mercedes | + 46.6s
- Maldonado - Williams-Renault | + 1m06.4s
- Hulkenberg - Sauber-Ferrari | + 1m12.9s
- Sutil - Force India-Mercedes | + 1m16.7s
- Bottas - Williams-Renault | + 1m21.5s
- Massa - Ferrari | + 1m26.3s
- Ricciardo - Toro Rosso-Ferrari | + 1 lap
- Pic - Caterham-Renault | + 1 lap
- Gutierrez - Sauber-Ferrari | + 1 lap
- Bianchi - Marussia-Cosworth | + 1 lap
- Chilton - Marussia-Cosworth | + 1 lap
- van der Garde - Caterham-Renault | + 2 laps
- Driver Team On lap
- Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16