Webber's win leaves title race wide open
Nevertheless, Mark Webber's dominant victory has left this year's world championship battle as intriguingly poised as ever.
Webber's win was arguably the best of his three career victories so far. He was utterly comfortable in the lead throughout the race and had the measure of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
But, while the Australian was undoubtedly driving only as fast as he needed to, it does nevertheless seem to be the case that the Red Bulls were nowhere near as dominant as they had been in qualifying.
It is no exaggeration to say that Red Bull's electrifying pace on Saturday had left their rivals reeling - after all, the last time one team had such a huge margin over their rivals at the start of the European season was Williams in 1996.
The common denominator between then and now is Red Bull's brilliant chief technical officer Adrian Newey, who was the man behind the 1996 Williams that took Damon Hill to the world title.
It seems likely that this year's Red Bull, the RB6, will go down in history as one of the greatest cars produced by one of the most brilliant designers in the history of Formula 1.
With undoubtedly the fastest car on the grid, therefore, Red Bull should really be running away with the championship, but they are third in both the drivers' (Vettel) and constructors' races because of their continuing fragility and inconsistency.
Be that as it may, it is hard to argue with five poles in five races, and on the assumption that Red Bull will get their act together sooner or later you would probably have to make them favourites to win the title.
My colleague Mark Hughes will go into more detail on this subject in his column on Tuesday.
Mark Webber led from green light to chequered flag in Barcelona. Photo: Getty
For our purposes here, though, it is worth pointing out that, despite Red Bull having an enormous advantage of 0.8 seconds a lap in qualifying, Webber's team-mate Vettel was behind Lewis Hamilton's McLaren when the German suffered his brake failure with 12 laps to go.
Vettel, who had lost four seconds to Webber in the first stint, had probably built up just enough of an advantage over Hamilton to make his stop without losing second place had his mechanics not had problems fitting his right front wheel, the one that later suffered the brake failure.
Nevertheless, it was striking that for all Red Bull's pace in qualifying, Vettel had managed to pull out only 2.5 seconds on Hamilton in those first 15 laps.
Given that the Circuit de Catalunya is the track where the fast-corner strengths of the Red Bull will probably be most apparent, that is encouraging for those who wish to see a close battle this season.
Hamilton was quite brilliant on Sunday, driving with stunning pace but also a maturity that he might not have displayed a couple of years ago.
It must have been tempting to take a dive down the inside of Webber at the first corner after making a good start. It was, after all, Hamilton's only chance of winning the race.
But, realising it was too risky, he pulled out of it, and he was on course to take a well deserved second place before his late-race puncture.
At first glance, that appears to have hit Hamilton's championship hopes badly. He is now 21 points off the lead, which is still held by his team-mate Jenson Button, who finished fifth after a frustrating race bottled up behind Michael Schumacher's Mercedes after a problem at his pit stop.
But a 21-point deficit is not as bad as it looks. Under F1's new points system, there are 25 points for a win, where there were only 10 previously. So that is really only like an eight-point gap in old money - the sort of margin that is easily recoverable in the remaining 14 races.
Button, his two brilliant wins combined with three other lacklustre results, now holds a three-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who admitted he was lucky to finish second at his home race.
The Spaniard was as superb as ever, hanging on to the back of Vettel's Red Bull in a car that, following the upgrades introduced by Red Bull and McLaren in Spain, was only the third quickest on the grid.
Alonso was the pre-season favourite for the title and it's easy to see why.
Since his victory in the opening race in Bahrain, he has hardly had what you would call a smooth start to his Ferrari career.
He spun on the opening lap on Australia, has had two engine failures (one in a race), and has jumped a start, yet he is still right up there in the championship.
Ferrari are not too concerned about slipping to third in the competitive order in Spain. Alonso said he expected to struggle this weekend. The team know they are lacking downforce and have what Alonso calls an "aggressive development programme" aimed at getting them closer to the absolute pace.
What makes Alonso so formidable is his utter relentlessness, his ability generally to get the best possible out of any given situation, a quality he displayed again on Sunday.
Red Bull are in the exact opposite situation, which is why Vettel is 10 points off the lead and Webber a further seven behind him despite all those pole positions.
This must be frustrating for the drivers, and team boss Christian Horner, but it is an old F1 cliche that it is better to have a fast, fragile car than a slow, reliable one, as is the case with Mercedes.
For them, this weekend was a bit of a reality check. Nico Rosberg came to Spain second in the championship and he left it fifth.
He is one point ahead of Hamilton, but the difference between them is that while McLaren made a step forward in competitiveness compared to their rivals, Mercedes did not, despite bringing a massive upgrade to their car.
That meant the development, which did improve the car in absolute terms, achieved one of its desired effects - of making Michael Schumacher more comfortable in the car - but failed in the other.
For the first time all season, Schumacher was the more competitive of the two Mercedes drivers, but he finished the race more than a minute behind Webber, and more than 40 seconds adrift of Alonso.
These are not the sort of margins that are easy to close. So, while it is early days, the championship already looks a long shot, at best, for Mercedes.
For all the other top teams, however, things are still wide open.