|2011 World Champion Sebastian Vettel|
Jenson Button won the Japanese grand prix but, as the Suzuka spectator's sign confirmed, "Today is Vettel's day".
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel mathematically clinched his second consecutive title by finishing third, also behind Fernando Alonso, clinching the 2011 Drivers World Championship with four races remaining.
"We would have loved to win it but Sebastian is world champion," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner on BBC 1 television.
Vettel, despite failing to win a fourth consecutive race on the trot, was emotional as he thanked his team in the post-race press conference: "Sorry this (speech) is so long," smiled the 24-year-old German.
The finish was rather close. Button took the win by 1.1 seconds over a closing Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari in second place. Sebastian Vettel finished third, 2.0 seconds behind in his Red Bull-Renault.
Vettel joins Alberto Ascari, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Jack Brabham, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso as only the eighth driver to win back-to-back drivers championships – and the youngest ever. The win is Button's third of the season and the 12th of his career – McLaren's fifth of the season.
Mark Webber finished fourth for Red Bull, followed by Lewis Hamilton in fifth place, Michael Schumacher in sixth place, Felipe Massa in seventh place, Sergio Perez was eighth, Vitaly Petrov was ninth and Nico Rosberg took the final points paying position.
Vettel took the lead at the start with an aggressive move to block Button into turn 1. Button, who had the fastest car all weekend, was saving his soft tires, and closed on Vettel's Red Bull before the first round of pitstops. Vettel pitted a lap earlier and stayed ahead after the first stops, but when it was time for the second stops on laps 19 and 20, Button had a better in-lap pace and a fast McLaren stop got the Briton out in the lead.
Vettel found himself back in traffic when he made an early third stop to switch to medium tires on lap 33.
Button ran three laps longer and extended his lead, with Alonso staying out a further lap still and emerging just ahead of the frustrated Vettel.
The soon-to-be-champion was all over Alonso but his Red Bull told him to back it down and secure the world title. Alonso then closed to within a second of Button but could get no closer, finishing 1.1 seconds back at the flag.
Sebastian Vettel (3rd): "A lot of people have been quite confident about the title, but one of the important things was that we didn't allow ourselves to drift away with the thought too much. Instead we concentrated on every single step and everything we have done this year and everything we have achieved – then wow. I want to thank all the guys and girls in the factory in Milton Keynes, as it's not just us here pushing very hard, it's them as well – from the post office to the design office to the engineering office here at the track, their effort is just incredible. It's hard to imagine you know, we have two cars and two drivers only and we carry that weight on our shoulders every time we go on track. Sometimes we don't treat the cars as good as we should, but we always try to get every single bit out of them every race weekend. But it's phenomenal what's happened – we set ourselves the target to win the Championship this year and so, to win it by Japan with four more races to go, is difficult to put into words – it's as confusing as the first one. I never imagined I would win one Championship and so to win this second one is amazing. I have a lot of good memories from Formula One, from watching it when I was young, to now and I feel fortunate and blessed to experience today. There were so many excited people when we did the drivers' parade today and that was my last thought when I put my helmet on. For drivers, it doesn't get much better than this, a sunny day and all the fans excited to see what you do – I think that's what life is about. And so, to wrap up the Championship here is difficult to put into words – it's more than fantastic."
Mark Webber (4th): "Congratulations to Sebastian – to become a double World Championship is a very good job. All the overtaking during the race was in the pit stops today, with not much on track. We passed a Ferrari and a McLaren, but it was quite even between all of us. I had some contact with Michael Schumacher, which did some damage to my front wing at a crucial part of the race as I was trying to come back through the pack. We made contact, but he got away with it. The safety car didn't really come at the right time for me – as I was hoping to have a look at Fernando around the stops, but when the field bunches up you have to go through the Michael situation again and it's hard to undercut people. In the end it was a reasonable result; it was a great race for Jenson, it's his second home race in many ways, and congratulations to Seb for the title."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Firstly, it's phenomenal for Sebastian Vettel to win his second World Championship. He's driven magnificently this year and thoroughly deserves this Championship victory, which he has dominated since the first race in Melbourne. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and team work and he can be very proud of what he's achieved. This now places him amongst an elite group of drivers who have realized not only a double Championship – but back-to-back World Championships. The race today was a tight one, we seemed to lose time in the pit lane today – perhaps with our positioning at the end of the pit lane, but nonetheless Jenson drove a strong race and congratulations to him. Third and fourth is still a strong haul of points for the Constructors' Championship and we have consolidated our lead of 130 points. However, today belongs to Sebastian."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Of course I'm more than happy today! I think we've got a magic Vettel this year, last year was already fantastic, but this year he was simply incredible, this small guy! He really earned it; he just never stops working and is always pushing a lot – so it's richly and well deserved. I'm really happy for him and all the people that are at Renault. We just need to finish the job in the coming races by getting the Team Championship also."
Jenson Button (1st): "This was a hard race – the last five or six laps were extremely tough, I had to really look after the tires and try to save a bit of fuel to get the car home, but it was an amazing victory. Sebastian [Vettel] came across at me on the start – he kept coming and didn't stop, so I got on the grass and had to back out of the throttle, otherwise there would've been an almighty shunt into Turn One. He said he didn't see me until he saw me backing out, so that lost me a place. But fighting back was so, so satisfying: the performance has been in the car all weekend. It's such an emotional victory for me: there's so much history at this circuit, and the crowd here has been amazing, this is second only to a home victory for me. I want to thank every single person here in Japan who's supported us – hopefully we've planted a happy memory in their minds, because a lot of Japan has been through difficult times this year. We did our best and we put on a fantastic show. Seb has done a great job all season and he deserved the title. He was given the equipment and just got on and did what was required of him. But, for us, there's still more that we can achieve this year: I'd love to go out and fight to win the next few races, and I think we have the car and the team to go and do that. We'll keep pushing and hope to get some more wins this year, but we're also in a very good place right now – and I think that's key to success in 2012."
Lewis Hamilton (5th): "This was a disappointing race for me, but it was a great day for Jenson and the whole team. Jenson did a remarkable job today – he really deserved this victory, but it wasn't a great one for me. Still, I'm going to keep my head up and look ahead to the next race where I'll hopefully have another chance. Clearly, our car has the pace to win, but I wasn't able to compete today so I'll go away and look at the data to work out how I can come back and be competitive in Korea next weekend. In the race, I don't really know what happened with Felipe – the car's mirrors vibrate at high-speed, so I couldn't see him pulling alongside me. I want to apologize for our cars' touching, but fortunately nothing happened to either of us. There was no bad intention towards Felipe; I've got the utmost respect for him, he's a fantastic driver and he was extremely quick today. Finally, big congratulations to Sebastian for winning the title. We all knew it was going to happen, but his season has really been flawless. It's a fantastic achievement for him."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today we witnessed a great drive from Jenson. It was a fast and tough race from the very start, and Jenson, Fernando [Alonso] and Sebastian all did a fantastic job today. Obviously, those last few laps were extremely tense. We've been in the position of hunting for victory, but it's even more nerve-wracking when you're the car in front! It was a very tense but fantastic spectacle and Jenson didn't put a foot wrong. He drove with extraordinary calm, so today's victory is incredibly well deserved. Lewis had a more difficult afternoon. We weren't immediately aware that Lewis appeared to suffer a slow puncture to the right-rear in the first stint. That created a growing pressure differential across the rear axle, and potentially led us to add too much front wing to compensate for the lack of balance at the rear. In hindsight, that may have led to Lewis fighting to find a satisfactory balance for the next two stints as we attempted to restore the set-up he'd enjoyed during the previous two days. It was a challenging afternoon for Lewis, but he never gave up, kept pushing and scored some strong points for the team. He had the pace this weekend, so I'm sure he'll be as tough as ever in Korea next weekend. Finally, I would like to pass on congratulations to Sebastian from myself and the whole of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. He has driven a consistent and error-free season, and I only wish we could have delayed tonight's party for a little while longer! But big congratulations to him nonetheless. For all of us at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, our ambition is undimmed: we'll be aiming to win all the remaining races, starting with Korea next weekend."
Fernando Alonso (2nd): "Congratulations to Sebastian! Winning two world titles at his age, in a season in which he has done it all – in qualifying, the races and every other way, so perfectly, is amazing and it is well deserved. For our part, we can do no more than try and do our utmost to try and beat him next year. Today, we did our best and we came close to winning the race. We know that in qualifying we are behind the Red Bulls and McLarens, but in the race, when there are variables like tire degradation, then we can exploit some opportunities. Here, the others were very strong for the first five or six laps and then we closed up to them a lot. This podium is a great motivation for the final four races of the season. It was a fun race, in which the strategy was very important. Unlike recent races, today we had a pace that was good enough to fight for the win. We will try again in Korea, where we can go with our heads held high: we will try and win, or at least get on the podium again."
Felipe Massa (7th): "Once again I finish a race with a very bitter taste in my mouth. Today, our pace was good enough to finish on the podium, as Fernando demonstrated, but instead I am here commenting on a seventh place. It's a real shame. The contact with Hamilton? My car was definitely damaged by it: when I looked at it after the race, I saw there was a bit of the front wing endplate missing and the floor was not on properly on the left hand side and I could feel it in the way my car was behaving. I think the footage speaks for itself: he was struggling with his tires and I had almost come alongside him and for no reason, he moved over and hit me. I let you be the judge… It's pointless for me to say any more about it. However, I do want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel: he is a great guy and deserves this title and I am very happy for him."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "First of all on behalf of the Scuderia, I wish to congratulate Sebastian Vettel on clinching his second Drivers' title: he has had an incredible season and this fantastic result is well deserved! As for us, I don't think it's out of place if, for the second time running, I use the adjective amazing, this time to describe Fernando Alonso's race today. Our driver was always on the attack and came very close to a win which would have been incredible, given our performance two weeks ago in Singapore. All these changes of fortune in terms of who is competitive, confirm once again how hard it is to understand as well as possible the real performance of the car-tire packages at each track. Felipe was also having a very good race, at least until the contact with Hamilton: the damage his car suffered in this incident probably penalized him excessively in the second part of the race. There are still four races to go this season, in which we will do our utmost to achieve the objectives that are still within our reach: winning again, taking Fernando to second in the Drivers' classification and learning as much as possible from this car with a view to 2012."
Pat Fry: "A great result today at Suzuka, especially in terms of how competitive we were on track. Fernando came very close to winning, getting the very most out of the equipment at his disposal, trying to attack at every conceivable opportunity. Felipe also drove a good race, but first he might have paid the price for a pit stop that was delayed by a few laps and then there was the contact with Hamilton: in the end he found himself in traffic and we have often seen this year how hard it is to pass a Mercedes, even if we have a better pace. We had a three stop strategy, aware that it would not be an easy one to manage given the rather high level of tire degradation. The Safety Car period gave everyone a hand and, for once, even the traffic helped us a bit, at least with Fernando. We were not able to make the most of our pace in the final part of each stint with the Soft tires, because in any case it always costs you a bit pitting early, at least until the point at which you don't lengthen the final stint of the race too much. Here too, the performance on the Mediums was not that bad, also because we suffered a lot less from our traditional problem of getting the harder compound up to temperature. Now we will try to do the same again next weekend in Korea: it would be nice to get another win before the end of the season, but we know it will be difficult!"
Michael Schumacher (6th): "I'm very happy with what we achieved in Suzuka today as we maximized our potential of the car, and managed to put in a good race. The team did a great job the whole weekend in finding performance and transforming it into the race. I think there was not more to expect and achieve. The pit stops were perfectly timed and everything worked out according to plan. I would like to congratulate Sebastian and his team who have been exceptional the whole year. It is extremely emotional to see him win the Championship again – I am very happy for him and even a little bit proud."
Nico Rosberg (10th): "I'm pleased to score a point today and had fun out there with a few nice overtaking maneuvers. This is definitely one of the toughest tracks for overtaking so starting from the back of the grid meant that I had a pretty tough job. Before the race, I hoped to achieve between eighth and 10th places and, whilst it would have been nice to be a bit higher, it's still a decent result. Thanks to the team for a good strategy and great pit stops today. After this complicated weekend, I hope to have a more normal weekend in Korea and fight in our usual position. And finally, Sebastian, congratulations: you deserve the title."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We made the absolute most of the car and opportunities we had at our disposal today. The car performed well throughout the race, our strategies were right for both cars, and the pit crew produced fantastic stops – we have performed strongly all year in the pits, and today our stops won us places, particularly for Nico during the Safety Car period when he jumped two cars. Michael and Nico both delivered great performances in the cockpit, passing cleanly when they needed to and defending strongly. Overall, I think it was a very exciting race and a fitting Grand Prix in which to crown a new World Champion. Congratulations to Sebastian and Red Bull Racing on his second World Championship – he has driven impeccably all year, and together they have set the standards we must now aim for and exceed."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Michael and Nico both delivered strong races this afternoon and quite competitive lap times. Michael raced and finished among the top three teams, leading laps during the pit stop cycles, and Nico drove strongly through the field into the points, as we believed he could after qualifying yesterday, even starting from P23. Compliments to our pit stop and strategy crew as well, who played a key role in our team result this afternoon. Congratulations to Jenson Button and McLaren-Mercedes on their victory over the World Champion but, most of all, we take our hats off to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing – not just for winning the title, but also for defending it with an exceptional level of performance throughout the season."
Vitaly Petrov (9th): "We started on the medium (prime) tire and I did all I could to maintain position at the start as those around me were on the soft (option). I suffered a lot of wheelspin, so with this tire it was actually a pretty good start – if I was on the soft I would have gained places. During the race it was difficult to tell how the strategy was working and it was a challenge for the first two stints fighting against those on softer tires. Ultimately, our target was to finish in front of Force India and this is what we achieved. When I put on the soft tires towards the end of the race I felt so much grip; I smiled then I pushed a lot! Then I overtook I don't know how many cars. It's a pity Sergio (Perez) was just too far ahead. Now we go to Korea looking for another top ten finish."
Bruno Senna (16th): "From my perspective, it was a disappointing race having started the race in such a promising position. Vitaly squeezed me a little bit in the second corner, which made it tricky for me to recover. For the rest of the race, I encountered lots of traffic problems and my tires were degrading quite fast. Overall, I think we can learn from this weekend. Despite limited track time before qualifying yesterday, I managed to get into Q3 and we certainly looked stronger over the three days here than we did in Singapore. Hopefully I will be back in the points in Korea."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "First and foremost it was good to be back in the points. We had a different strategy to most of the teams and it worked reasonably well for Vitaly, but not so well for Bruno who struggled with a lot of traffic. Unfortunately the safety car did not help us either, but at least we have two more points to help us hold off the threat of Force India in the Constructors' Championship. Finally, on behalf of the whole team I would like to offer my congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his second World Championship win."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're happy to get Vitaly in the points. Our car was very severe on the soft tire here which dictated our strategy to an extent. We had reasonable medium tire performance so we ran a medium-medium-soft strategy. The soft tire was faster than the medium in the race to a greater margin than we predicted. This made for a fraught time on the pit wall, however we were committed to the strategy. Our approach did work against Force India and Kamui (Kobayashi) however Sergio (Perez) was able to run two reasonably long stints on option tires which beat us. Bruno was compromised at the start and he had a particularly poor first pit stop. He didn't have the pace of Vitaly when he was on the soft tires so we will work to understand why. Vitaly's softs held on well, whereas Bruno appeared to have huge degradation. The safety car certainly didn't help us as it came when we were early in the second stint on the medium tires. Our overall sum up for the day: reasonable, but could have done better."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "This weekend has seen the team get back to form in qualifying and to get a points finish is good news for the Constructors' Championship. We knew Suzuka would suit us a lot better as it is much more high speed and requires good drivability from the engine, which we know that the RS27 delivers. We were particularly pleased that the package tried out in Singapore worked very well; we had no issues with the cooling. Korea is in just a few days so we'll get our heads down and try to keep this form going. Congratulations to Sebastian for his second title today."
Pastor Maldonado (14th): "We had a difficult start on the prime tires and our pace in the first stint was penalized quite heavily by them. We went onto the options at the second pitstop and that improved our pace considerably. We became fairly consistent after that. Towards the end of the race our pace was quick, I think possibly the quickest it's been all weekend, but it was too late as we'd already lost out on a better finish in the opening laps. I did the best I possibly could today but it was not enough."
Rubens Barrichello (17th): "Everything seemed to be playing our way at the start but then the safety car was deployed. That was bad timing for us. It closed the pack up and left us struggling on the wrong tire at the end of the race which was too slow."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "We split the strategy today with Rubens starting on the option tire on a three stop and Pastor on a two stop on primes. When the safety car was deployed, we switched Pastor onto a three stop strategy. Both drivers fought hard throughout the race but unfortunately we didn't have the pace to make it into the points. We will continue to develop the car and look ahead to Korea and India."
Adrian Sutil (11th): "To be honest I feel we were unlucky to miss out on points today. My initial start was excellent, although I had to lift because Kobayashi had a very poor start and so I didn't get the full benefit. But after the first few laps I was ahead of the Renaults and we had good pace. I think what really hurt my race was the safety car because I made my second stop the lap before it came out and lost track position. In terms of strategy we had to go for three stops because the degradation was so high. For a while it looked like ninth was possible, but in the end we lost out to the cars making two stops who had the benefit of soft tires at the end of the race."
Paul di Resta (12th): "I made an awesome start to the race, going to the outside and jumping up four places – ahead of both the Renaults and Kobayashi. I settled into a good rhythm but the safety car spoilt our strategy because that was our fastest part of the race and it was important to try and pull a gap. It helped the cars making two stops because they caught us in the final laps and it was very hard to defend. Going into the final four races we know it's going to be a close battle with the teams around us. Sauber seemed to be quite competitive here and Renault look to be back on form, but we will try and fight back in Korea."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "We went into today's race believing we could fight for points, but ultimately the circumstances of the race just denied us in the final stages. In terms of strategy we definitely had our bases covered and the excellent starts for both cars played into our hands nicely. We knew we were on the limit with tire wear, but we were showing good race pace and pulling a gap to the cars running on the medium tires at the start of the race. Our undoing proved to be the safety car, which negated all our advantage and brought the two-stopping cars right into contention. We tried to hold on for some points, but it was impossible to defend against cars running soft tires in the final laps. So we leave Suzuka a little disappointed, but we will focus on the positives and look to realize our potential in Korea."
Sergio Perez (8th): "I am very happy for the team to have scored some points here in Japan, especially after we had that technical problem yesterday in qualifying and I had to start 17th. But today the strategy with the tires worked out very well for me, and the team did a very good job on this. Also the car's performance was good. I pushed very hard, and gave my maximum today. Physically it was very hard for me because I am suffering from flu, so I'm totally happy that I brought the car home in a position good enough to score points."
Kamui Kobayashi (13th): "It was a tricky race for me. At the start when I released the clutch the car suddenly was in anti-stall mode, and that was why I lost five positions straight away. I tried to fight other cars then but overtaking wasn't as easy as it was here last year. Then the safety car came out in what was a bad moment for our strategy. I did my second stop when the safety car was out, we changed from the soft to the medium compound and with those tires I then had to go to the end of the race – 29 laps. In the end they were just so bad that I couldn't defend my position anymore. Anyway, I had a good qualifying here and the car's performance in the race has definitely improved, so we will keep pushing at the remaining races. I am very proud of all the Japanese fans who are so excited about Formula One. They are a great crowd and for me it was a very emotional day."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Everybody in the team hoped Kamui could score a good result in his home Grand Prix. He would have deserved that after his strong qualifying performance, but then things went wrong at the start. He lost a lot of positions, and his aggressive strategy didn't work as a result of that. Sergio drove a brilliant race. Starting from 17th and finishing eighth says it all. He was aggressive and consistent at the same time. His result also proves that we made a clear step forward with our car, which is important for the upcoming races. Congratulations to Sebastian for a well-deserved world championship title after an outstanding season"
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a tough race, very close and competitive. It was great to bring some points back, as we needed them. The whole team worked very hard and deserved them. It was a great shame for Kamui, who got an anti-stall at the start and lost several places. We had him on an aggressive strategy with the soft tires to begin with, but he ended up in traffic, and also the safety car came out at the wrong time for him. He did a great job to hang on to his tires at the end, but the start compromised him. We have to look at why he had that problem. Sergio drove a really strong race, and his pace was very good. His strategy was the opposite to Kamui's, and it seems that this was the right way to go. He wasn't helped by the safety car either, but his pace first on the medium tire and then the soft tires towards the end was very consistent, and it allowed him to make up many positions from P17 to P8. He really did a fantastic job. We can be pleased after a long, hard weekend coming home with four points."
Jaime Alguersuari (15th): "I had more or less the same strategy as Perez, however he seemed to be one second a lap faster than me. I was unable to get past as I was hitting the limiter on the engine, so I could not find the extra speed needed to overtake. On top of that, I was losing my downforce from following the cars in front. I can't remember the last time I found it so hard to overtake in a race. I always gave my maximum, but the performance was not there today. Now, I hope to fight back in Korea and try and battle with Sauber again for some points."
Sebastien Buemi (DNF, Tire): "I had a very good start, passing five cars and running P11. I even ran tenth for a few laps before my first pit stop. I came out of the pits and already at the first corner, I felt some vibration and I saw that the right front wheel was beginning to move. It had not been properly fitted at the pit stop, I'm not sure why and then it came off at Turn 4. There was no way I could drive back to the pits, so my race was over. It's a shame, because it was looking as though we could have had a good race and scored some points."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "First of all, on behalf of everyone at Toro Rosso, I want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing for winning a second consecutive Drivers' Championship. Our weekend in Suzuka got off to a reasonably encouraging start on Friday, but from then on, it did not go so well. Today, we lost Sebastien early on in the race, when his right front wheel came off, for reasons which we are currently investigating, at the first pit stop. It is a great shame, as he had made a very good start, passing several cars to be lying eleventh, having made up four places from his grid position. Jaime lost three positions on the opening lap and from then on, he was unable to make any significant progress. There were signs that some of the updates we introduced here could produce an improvement in car performance and now we only have to wait a few days to see if we can exploit them better in Korea."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th): "What a great race for the whole team! I made an incredible start, no wheelspin, the perfect clutch slip and was suddenly past a load of cars and up into 14th. It looked like everyone else went into reverse and I even heard one of the engineers laugh and accidentally telling someone else how brilliant the start was, and I thought 'no! Don't mention it now, I need to get on with the rest of the race!' After that the first couple of stints were great. The car was working really well on the soft tires and the stops were mega, and then the safety car came out and bunched everyone up so from there it was a race to the flag with Jarno and I stayed ahead until the last lap. The car has felt balanced all weekend so on the harder compound I was still able to push all afternoon, and even though I was held up a bit by the Virgins and the HRTs when they were being shown blue flags, I was still able to keep ahead of Jarno and as he's always been quick here that feels pretty good. Also – the fact that this is the first time this season we didn't see any blue flags is very satisfying. Every time you have to let someone pass you are artificially slowing up your own race, and it shows our car keeps improving, as does the whole team. Ok, the safety car helped us, but then you have to be in the right place to take advantage of whatever happens on track, and today we did just that. A great day."
Jarno Trulli (19th): "For me that was a good day. It didn't start too well – for once my start wasn't perfect but once we got under way I was able to put in a few good passes and was making up ground. After a few laps it felt like I had a problem with the gearbox that slowed me down, but it came back and almost immediately the safety car came out and I was able to make up the gap to Heikki and we both had a good run to the end. For the whole team this is a pretty significant result. We completed every lap of the race, and while that might not seem all that important when there are guys winning championships up ahead, it still shows we keep on improving, and I'm really pleased for everyone, here at the track and back at the factory, that we can leave Japan on a high again and head to the next race in Korea."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "Firstly I'd like to wish Sebastian and all our friends at Red Bull Racing huge congratulations for an incredible job this season. They still have a job to do, and I know from firsthand experience that they will not let up in their pursuit of the constructors' title this year, and many more titles in the future. They set the standards that we must aspire to and I am very proud that we are part of their extended family and can keep being inspired by them as we grow to, one day, take the fight to them on track. For us, I know I keep saying it at every race but this really was the best race we have ever had. As soon as I came in this morning I had a feeling that everything in the team is beginning to come together as we had planned, and to finish on the same lap as the world champion is a huge step forward for us. The drivers both drove their hearts out today and the pitstops were excellent all afternoon. Our race pace was strong and we were bold with the strategies on both cars and that gave us the reward of not seeing a blue flag throughout the whole race. A great team effort. I think that this is a turning point for us. Suzuka is a quick circuit, not an easy place to take steps forward, so to have performed as well as we have done all weekend means I leave here absolutely thrilled, knowing our hard work is starting to pay off. The strategy that we have employed, of being patient and not rushing into the wrong decisions is paying dividends, and this is a clear sign that next year, and especially the year after, we are going to see more big steps forwards from our team."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "That was a really pleasing race weekend for the whole team. For the first time both cars finished on the lead lap and even though we were helped by the safety car our level of performance was still the best we have ever seen relative to cars around us. Both drivers pushed throughout the whole race, right up until the last lap and I think we managed to extract every ounce of performance we could from the cars. Heikki made an amazing start, by some way the best of the year and that made a three stop strategy the obvious choice, running the option for the first three stints, and that worked out pretty well. With Jarno we managed an issue he had in the first stint, and to see him pushing Heikki hard at the end of the race was exactly what we wanted from him and his team mate. They were also both helped by some tremendous pitstops from the guys in the garage so all in all this was a very professional job right across the board and I want to thank the whole team for the work they have put in here, and give my congratulations to everyone."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We are delighted for the whole team today. For Renault Sport F1 this is an historic day – Sebastian's won his second title, so congratulations to him for that, and for Team Lotus we have been in the very happy position, for the first time this year, where we have had to manage the fuel consumption levels right to the flag. We have been working hard all weekend on giving the drivers the best balance we can with the blown floor, and they are both reporting that they have had well balanced cars all afternoon, so we have definitely done our part in helping the team take another step forward today. Congratulations to everyone!"
Daniel Ricciardo (22nd): "The race went quite well considering yesterday's pace, we've got to be happy about being only a few tenths behind the Virgins. At one stage I was in front but the safety car didn't help. It came out at times that didn't suit us. But I'm happy with the performance and, personally, I'm pleased with the way I drove and I don't think I could have done much more. The car was good; with every run we made adjustments that improved it. I'm happy for the team because it was a strong race for us. We made good progress since the last few races we've had incidents in the first few laps so I'm satisfied to have had a clean race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd): "It was a really tough race where we paid the consequences for hardly doing any laps on Friday and Saturday. We went into the race with a bit of a blind set-up. We suffered massive degradation with the rear tires, especially the rear left, and I wasn't able to do many laps with any set of tires. At the beginning it wasn't too bad and I was able to fight the drivers ahead but once I passed a few laps I had to pit. It was a massive fight and reaching the finish line was the most positive aspect of the day."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Overall, today's race has been what we were hoping for: a race without major problems and fighting the Virgins, which we did. Daniel kept a good pace from the beginning and fought both D'Ambrosio and especially Glock throughout the race. With the blue flags and traffic we ended up behind them but all in all Daniel did a very good race and took another step forward. After a difficult weekend, Tonio and his crew went to the race with very little information and track time and he did his best to push the car lap by lap and get to the end. There isn't much else he could do. This race is over and Korea is coming right next week and I hope that we won't have any of the problems we faced this weekend."
Timo Glock (20th): "I had a good start, got on the outside and managed to get Jerome in the first part of the first two corners. I nearly hit Trulli; he pushed me out and I went out on to the grass and unfortunately couldn't stay on track, so I lost position again and was behind Jerome. I was stuck behind him for the first stint, which destroyed my tires in the first five or six laps because I was a bit quicker than him and then he started to pull away. We went for an early pitstop but the right rear tire didn't go on well and I lost 4-5 seconds, the position against Ricciardo and then Jerome was able to pull quite far away. Then the safety car came out and we switched to a three-stop and the hard tire. I was able to get in front of Jerome but at the end it was quite difficult against all the blue flags and I had a few tough moments. Anyway, we got both cars home no problem and we got the best out of the cars. I'm looking forward to Korea but we have to look at the car set-up again as it was okay, but not magic."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (21st): "I think it was a good race. I had a good start and first part of the race. I'm not sure if we went for the best option regarding the strategy, as I lost my position to Timo in the pits, which is a shame. But I came back on him in the end and we had a great fight but he was able to end the race ahead. It was a positive weekend for me and I'm happy with this."
John Booth, Team Principal: "This hasn't been the most straightforward of weekends for us and today's race continued in much the same vein. Our strategy didn't play out in the way that we had hoped and we lost some time with our pitstops as well. Early in the race we suffered a problem with our timing information on the pitwall and unfortunately this was at a critical time in the tire lifecycle, so we really had to think on our feet. Despite all of these problems, we were still able to finish ahead of our nearest competitor and with both cars, which are positives to take away from the race. We'll be back on track in Korea in just a few days' time so we will regroup quickly and implement the necessary improvements. It has been extremely heart-warming to return to Japan and receive such a typically warm reception from the fans here. They deserved a great race and they got one – the Championship decider to boot. Congratulations to Sebastian on his second world title. For us, we now head to Yeongam with quite a tough turnaround ahead but hopefully a positive weekend."
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Red Bull-Renault||53||2.006|
|4.||Mark Webber||Australia||Red Bull-Renault||53||8.071|
|6.||Michael Schumacher||Germany||Mercedes GP||53||27.120|
|10.||Nico Rosberg||Germany||Mercedes GP||53||44.322|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Germany||Force India-Mercedes||53||54.447|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Britain||Force India-Mercedes||53||1m02.326|
|15.||Jaime Alguersuari||Spain||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||53||1m06.623|
|20.||Timo Glock||Germany||Virgin-Cosworth||51||2 Laps|
|21.||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Belgium||Virgin-Cosworth||51||2 Laps|
|22.||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||HRT-Cosworth||51||2 Laps|
|23.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Italy||HRT-Cosworth||50||3 Laps|
|23||Sebastien Buemi||Switzerland||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||11||Tire|