|Vettel, left, leads former champion Jenson Button by 24 points in the drivers standings after two races [AFP]
Sebastian Vettel powered to victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix as the German world champion took his second pole-to-flag win in as many races.
McLaren's Jenson Button drove a composed race to take second place, ahead of a spirited Nick Heidfeld, who capitalised on a brilliant start to round off the podium places in his Renault.
"Fantastic job. In the heat we kept our heads cool. Thank you," Vettel told his Red Bull team over the team radio after winning his fourth race in a row.
"A pleasure every weekend to be with you. I'm loving it."
Vettel's teammate Mark Webber did well to claim fourth place after a poor start as both Red Bulls ditched the KERS boost system mid-race after suffering reliability issues.
The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took the next two places.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was demoted one place to after being handed a 20-second drive-through penalty by stewards.
International Automobile Federation (FIA) stewards deemed the Briton made more than one change of direction while defending third spot from Alonso.
The Spaniard was also docked 20 seconds for hitting Hamilton when attempting to overtake but retained his sixth-place finish.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Force India's Paul di Resta were the final three points scorers in a race highlighted by a flurry of pit stops but spared significant rain that was forecast for the weekend.
Vettel now tops the Formula One drivers standings with a perfect 50 points from two races, ahead of former world champions Button on 26 and Hamilton on 22.
Red Bull also took a 24 point lead in the constructors championship ahead of McLaren.
1 S Vettel (GER) RedBull
2 J Button (GBR) McLaren
3 N Heidfeld (GER) Renault
4 M Webber (AUS) RedBull
5 F Massa (BRA) Ferrari
6 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari
7 K Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber
8 L Hamilton (GBR) McLaren
9 M Schumacher (GER) Mercedes
10 P Di Resta (GBR) Force India
11 A Sutil (GER) Force India
12 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes
13 S Buemi (SUI) Toro Rosso
14 J Alguersuari (ESP) Toro Rosso
15 H Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus
16 T Glock (GER) Virgin
Vettel's 12th career victory was made more impressive by the malfunctioning of the KERS device on the Red Bull, with the German told midway through the race that he could no longer use it, even though it became operable again later.
"It was a little bit on-off during the race, so its something we have to work on," Vettel said, although he praised KERS for enabling him to get to the first corner in the lead, saying, "it saved our life today."
Webber also appeared to have problems with KERS, dropping from third to ninth after just one lap.
By contrast, both Renaults made storming starts, with Heidfeld moving from sixth to second by the second corner and Vitaly Petrov vaulting from eighth to fifth.
With rain surprisingly holding off throughout, the closing stages developed into a fight to see who could make their tires last longest.
Button used his trademark tire management to claim second.
"It was a confusing race in a way, trying to understand the pitstops," Button said.
"The last stint, when we put the hard tire on, the car came alive."
Heidfeld came under intense pressure in the final laps but managed to hold off Webber, saying later "I am grateful to finish third."
One of the major talking points of the race was a collision between old rivals Hamilton and Alonso with 10 laps to go.
The Ferrari driver tried a switchback passing move on Hamilton but did not quite measure the distance correctly, and snapped off the left endplate of his front wing by nudging Hamilton's right rear tire.
Alonso had to pit for a new front wing, while Hamilton struggled thereafter as his tires degraded, and was passed by Heidfeld then Webber before admitting defeat and pitting for new rubber with only three laps left.
Heidfeld's third place gave Renault consecutive podium finishes.
Petrov, who was third in Australia, had a spectacular end to his race, running wide over the grass and hitting a drainage ditch which launched him through the air, across the track, and into a brake distance marker.
There is only a one-week gap to the third race of the season, in Shanghai, where McLaren will be hoping to make another step toward matching the Red Bulls.
"We have seen how clear it is much closer than in Australia, so we see how things can change, so we have to keep pushing," Vettel said.
Button said: "we can't let the Red Bulls have it their own way for much longer – we want to challenge these guys."