Button and Maldonado swapped position several times in a fantastic scrap for 13th on the road, but on lap 49 the Briton tried to dive down the inside at Turn 1 and made contact with the rear of the Venezuelan's car.
Maldonado was pitched into a spin and ultimately forced to retire as a result, while Button was able to continue and take the chequered flag. Button admitted his own error had caused the collision when he was summoned by the stewards.
Marussia's Roberto Merhi, meanwhile, received an identical penalty for failing to stay above the required time set by governing body the FIA during the late safety-car period. The Spaniard finished 16th, last on the road and two laps down.