Changeable conditions prior to the start caused some head-scratching as the teams lined up on the grid. Hamilton and Raikkonen both gambled on starting on the harder compound tyre, whereas all of the top ten drivers had to start on the medium rubber they had used for their fast qualifying laps.
Massa and Alonso both made storming starts and seriously pressed Vettel and Webber into the first chicane. With his mirrors filled with scarlet Ferraris, Vettel locked-up his front-right brake and scarred the Pirelli tyre with a flat-spot, but still maintained the lead ahead of Massa, Webber and Alonso.
The tight confines of Monza's myriad chicanes caused the usual argy-bargy in the pack. Raikkonen chose to use the rear of Sergio Perez's McLaren as a brake into the first chicane, punting the Mexican driver across the run-off area and inflicting front-wing damage on his own Lotus, which he brought into the pits at the end of lap one.
Paul di Resta out braked himself into the second chicane and struck Grosjean's Lotus, wiping the front-left wheel and suspension off his Force India and retiring on the spot.
On lap three Alonso bravely sliced past Webber for third position, inadvertently clipping the front wing of the Red Bull with his rear tyre as he did so but inflicting no serious damage.
Half a dozen laps later, the Spaniard slipped past his dutiful team-mate for second position and set off in pursuit of Vettel, who was steadily inching clear at the head of the field.
However, the Red Bull pit garage was concerned by a vibration caused by that flat-spotted front-right tyre and as the first tyre changes approached, Alonso began to take significant chunks out of Vettel's lead.
At the end of lap 24 Vettel and Webber both pitted, briefly elevating Alonso and Massa to first and second, to the delight of the tifosi.
On the following lap Massa came in for new boots, ceding third place to Webber in the process because Ferrari's stop was half a second slower than Red Bull's.
Alonso stayed out on track until the end of lap 27, which soon looked like being the wrong decision because Vettel started to turn in some very fast laps on his fresh tyres.
The double world champion rejoined ten seconds behind the German, and only a second or so ahead of third-placed Webber.
The Aussie's prospects of attacking for second place were stymied by a gearbox glitch that prompted the team to tell him to short-shift his gear changes. Vettel was instructed to do likewise as a precaution, but he remained well clear of his pursuers to secure his sixth victory of the season.
Behind fourth-placed Massa, Hulkenberg drove intelligently to secure a valuable slug of points for Sauber, while Nico Rosberg had a quiet race to sixth place.
Although the race at the front failed to ignite as contest, there was plenty of action further down the field as Raikkonen and Hamilton recovered from their early issues.
Hamilton ran in tenth place in the early stages, but his pace was inconsistent and Mercedes suspected that he had a slow puncture on the front-right tyre.
They called him in for a pit stop, but Hamilton, struggling with a radio issue, was unable to hear the team's repeated calls. He eventually came in and dropped to 18th position.
That early pit visit meant he had to run on a two-stop strategy, which in turn meant he could take advantage of fresher tyres in the closing stages of the race.
The Briton mounted a terrific charge, dispatching Raikkonen, Perez and Button in the closing laps and salvaging ninth place from a challenging weekend.
Italian Grand Prix, 8 September 2013
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
4 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5 Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber)
6 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
7 Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
8 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
9 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
10 Jenson Button (McLaren)