Japanese GP: Vettel wins from pole

Sebastian Vettel celebrates
Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel kept his and Red Bull's F1 title hopes alive by winning the Japanese Grand Prix from pole Sunday. Jarno Trulli gave home team Toyota its second runner-up finish in a week by beating Lewis Hamilton's McLaren to second, with the world champion just holding off Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for third after a late safety car.

Vettel was dominant despite not running with KERS. At the start of the race Hamilton almost jumped up from third on the grid to lead, but Vettel held him off.

After two laps Vettel gapped Hamilton to lead comfortably
Red Bull

After that Vettel led at will and was never seriously challenged. This being one of the most difficult circuits on the schedule, Vettel showed why, even at his very young age, he is the best driver in F1 today, stretching Hamilton noticeably on lap one on cold tires with a car heavier with fuel than the McLaren.

At the start Hamilton tried to get past both Trulli and Vettel using KERS. He got Trulli but I couldn't quite manage to get into the lead. It was a good scrap with Jarno – they were really battling, setting qualifying times as they tried to shave tenths off each other's laps – but, over the race distance, Hamilton couldn't quite match Trulli's.

Up front Vettel had things all his way.

A late race caution period caused by Jaime Alguersuari's crash exiting the 130R corner bunched up the field, but Vettel just motored away when the track went back green.

"What a race!" said Vettel. "We already had pole position and strategy-wise we were the favorites, but, you know – first of all you have to do the start!

"We were pretty confident that we could defend our position, as we've had good starts in the past, but it was closer than I thought it would be! Going into Turn 1, I suddenly saw a silver arrow on my left-hand side, but I had the inside line so it was my advantage.

"After that I put my head down and tried to push with every single lap. The car was fantastic and I was able to create a gap quite quickly. We were two laps longer than Lewis (Hamilton) and a lap longer than Jarno (Trulli) in the first stint, so it all worked out and I was pretty much in control of the race. After we fitted the soft tires for the last stint, I wanted to have a little bit of fun. I did one very quick lap (I think a 32.5), but then my engineer came on the radio and said 'watch your tires, there might be a safety car or something' and two laps later there was the safety car!

"It's not what you want when you're in the lead, but I was still taking care of my tires and had a good restart. I had a bit of a cushion with Grosjean behind me and then three or four laps to build a gap again that was enough to win the race. Finally, we made it!

Vettel blows bubbly in Hamilton's ear to show him who is boss
Red Bull

"Fantastic. I was screaming with happiness on the radio at the end of the race. The last couple of races have been a bit up and down, sometimes we had pace and sometimes not, but finally we made it. It's good to be back in first position on Sunday. A huge thanks to all the team and everyone at Red Bull for this."

Alguersuari was unhurt following his big crash towards the end of Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

The Spanish teenager lost control of his Toro Rosso in the flat-out and infamous 130R corner, immediately reporting on the radio, "I'm ok".

Moments later, however, Alguersuari seemed light on his feet before laying down on an ambulance stretcher, apparently with a drip attached to his arm.

Team boss Franz Tost said: "He is uninjured, which is the most important thing."

However, the Toro Rosso chief admitted that the trip to Suzuka had been a "very expensive one" for the Faenza based team, after rookies Alguersuari and teammate Sebastien Buemi also crashed in qualifying.

With just two races to go and just 20 total possible points to garner, the only drivers still in the hunt to win the F1 title are:

1. Button 85 points
2. Barrichello 71
3. Vettel 69



Driver Team Behind
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +0.000
2. Trulli Toyota +4.877
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +6.472
4. Raikkonen Ferrari +7.940
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +8.793
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +9.509
7. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes +10.641
8. Button Brawn-Mercedes +11.474
9. Kubica BMW Sauber +11.777
10. Alonso Renault +13.065
11. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +13.735
12. Fisichella Ferrari +14.596
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +14.959
14. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes +15.734
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +17.973
16. Grosjean Renault +1 lap
17. Webber Red Bull-Renault +2 laps
18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF on Lap 58
19. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF on Lap 26
20. Glock Toyota DNF on Lap 15

Fastest lap: Webber, 1:32.569

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