Alonso became the leader on the road on the 14th lap when Gutierrez pitted, and thereafter he managed his race brilliantly, taking a set of medium tires on his second stop on lap 21, mediums again on lap 36, then more hards on lap 49.
Vettel had no answer this day, and slipped back as his similar four-stop strategy failed to pay off. Thus Raikkonen was left as Alonso’s only serious challenger.
Lotus had the Finn on a three-stop strategy, which began with mediums, and stayed that way in his stops on laps 10 and 26. Not until his third and final pit call on lap 45 did he switch to hards.
By the time Alonso made his last stop, four laps later, the gap between them was eight seconds, but on his fresher rubber Alonso initially pulled away until they reached stalemate on the 59th circuit. Their lap times then were three-thousandths of a second apart, and thereafter the Lotus was fractionally quicker, but the gap remained around 12s until Alonso backed off on the final lap and crossed the line 9.3s ahead in a race that was vital to his title aspirations and which put Ferrari right back on track.
To make it a great day for the Scuderia, Massa fought brilliantly from ninth on the grid after his penalty for impeding Mark Webber in qualifying dropped him three places, and took a well-deserved third, 16.7 seconds adrift of Raikkonen.
Vettel and Red Bull, well beaten for the first time in a long time, had to be content with fourth and fifth, as Webber battled back from a terrible start to follow his team mate home.