Fernando Alonso won from Jenson Button, while Lewis Hamilton's retirement and Mark Webber's sixth tightened the drivers' championship in an enthralling Italian Grand Prix in Monza.
Ferrari desperately needed a strong showing after a tough weekend in Belgium last time around and took heart from their qualifying pace which put both men in the top three on the grid.
Having opted to keep his F-duct wing Button's car had a downforce advantage which helped him make an electric start and wrest the lead from Alonso immediately.
In a chaotic first lap, Alonso clipped the wing of Button's McLaren, sending a part flying off it, before moments later Hamilton tangled wheels with Felipe Massa, breaking an axle and ending his race immediately.
Webber went backwards in his Red Bull, dropping to ninth, and Nico Rosberg profited from the confusion to put himself in fourth spot.
Button never shook Alonso from his tail as both men tussled at the head of the field.
Sebastian Vettel radioed in on lap 21 to his engineers that he had engine trouble, costing him a place to Webber, but two laps later the problem appeared to ease and he rediscovered his pace.
There was drama midway through the race after Sakon Yamamoto knocked over a Hispania radio man during his stop. The pit lane was closed briefly while an ambulance came to attend to him, but he remained conscious and did not sustain serious injuries.
The drivers stopped late into the race as their tyres wore lightly, but once Button opted to pit on lap 37 Alonso hit the accelerator and snuck ahead when he emerged from his own stop a lap later.
Webber got past Robert Kubica's Renault in the pits but then found himself engaged in an infuriating battle with Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, who kept him at bay until three laps from the end.
By that time, though, Webber had lost so much time that Vettel, who had opted not to pit, had enough of an advantage to make his mandatory stop and come out ahead of not only his team-mate but also Rosberg to take fourth and salvage some valuable points from his weekend.
Michael Schumacher had a quiet race and took ninth, while Rubens Barrichello grabbed the last points-scoring position.
The race was the ideal result for the neutrals, bringing the five leading contenders to within 24 points of one another. Webber returned to the top of the standings, but Vettel, Button and Alonso scored crucial points and left the drivers' championship more delicately poised than ever.