Vettel pulverised the field and overshadowed Ferrari title rival Fermando Alonso in the Italian team’s back yard.
Starting from his fourth pole position of the season, the 26-year-old Vettel held the lead going into the first corner after a tight opening lap tussle with team-mate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Vettel then gradually edged away to win the 53-lap race by six seconds from Alonso with Webber third.
“I had a blind spot going into turn one and did not know exactly where the other cars were,” said Vettel afterwards. “I locked up and we had to watch the right front tyre until the change.
“We also had a small problem with the transmission near the end so I tried to pace myself.”
Alonso, starting fifth after a fraught qualifying session punctuated by harsh inter-team radio messaging, made up a position on the run down to turn one then overtook Webber on lap three in a risky move.
Alonso was then waved through into second by team-mate Massa who eventually slipped down to fourth.
Thereafter the order at the sharp end stayed constant save for reshuffles during the compulsory stops for a change from medium compound tyres to the harder variety.
Nico Hulkenberg, who started a surprise third for the cash-strapped Sauber team, dropped just two places after thwarting attacks from faster combinations to finish fifth ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, the young Australian who was last week announced as the replacement for the retiring Webber at Red Bull, placed seventh with Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s Jenson Button completing the top 10.
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) finished 11th after an unscheduled first lap pit stop to replace his nose cone, but the 2007 champion, second in the championship before retiring last time out in Belgium, is now effectively out of the title running. Alonso (169) in second place in the championship now trails Vettel by 53 points with Hamilton third on 141 points.
The race marked the end of the European portion of the championship with the series now facing seven races in nine weeks in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas with the floodlit Singapore Grand Prix scheduled for September 22.