Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel opened up a 2.4-second cushion after just one lap of today’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Reigning champion Vettel made his pole position count going into the first corner Ste Devote ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Vettel’s team-mate, Mark Webber, again suffered another slow start, falling in behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by the opening turn.
Michael Schumacher, from fifth on the grid, suffered the worst getaway of the front-runners as he dropped to 10th early on.
However, the seven-times world champion sneaked up the inside of Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren, going round Mirabeau.
After five laps Vettel’s lead had grown to 4.6secs, with Button ahead of Alonso, Webber and Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes, with Hamilton 10th and Force India’s Paul di Resta 12th.
Stuck behind Schumacher, Hamilton had his first look at trying to pass the 42-year-old going into Ste Devote on lap eight.
Able to open up the DRS (moveable rear wing) along the short pit straight, Hamilton took a sneak around the outside, but given the difficulty in passing, the door was soon closed.
Two laps later, though, the Briton pulled off a brilliantly audacious move down the inside of Schumacher at Ste Devote.
Schumacher tried to cut Hamilton off, but the 2008 world champion just had enough room to squeeze up the inside, claiming ninth as the former gentlemanly backed off, avoiding a collision.
Having dropped six seconds behind eighth-placed Vitaly Petrov in his Renault, Hamilton then set the fastest lap on lap 11.
After Rubens Barrichello passed Schumacher on lap 12 going through Mirabeau, the German then pitted for fresh tyres and a new front wing, dropping to 21st.
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was seen creating a road block, only for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado to pass around the harbour and head into the swimming pool complex respectively on lap 14.
At the end of the following lap, Button came in for a fresh set of rubber, as did Vettel and then Webber on lap 16, the latter in his box for a lengthy period due to an issue.
Leading for one lap Alonso then made his dash into the pits on lap 16, and from the early round of stops it was Button who emerged the big winner.
Having been pitched into clear air following his stop, Button blistered the following lap to leapfrog Vettel and grab the lead.
Button then set successive fastest laps having switched to the super soft tyre, whilst Vettel merely went for the softs, and after 20 laps had opened up an 8.8secs gap, with Alonso a further 3.7secs behind.