Sebastian Vettel followed up a stunning pole with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. The German now is the first back to back race winner this season turning the championship momentum firmly in his favour as the championship leader crashed out on the first lap for the second time in four races. Alonsoâ€™s championship lead has now been cut to just 4 points making the final 5 races of the year a straight shootout between the two rivals with Red Bullâ€™s recent dominant pace giving Vettel the edge. It wasnâ€™t all bad news for Ferrari as Felipe Massa finally made the podium for the first time this year with a strong second place having started in 11th. Kamui Kobayashi rounded off the podium taking a popular third place staving off the efforts of McLarenâ€™s Button who finished strongly in fourth. The reception for the Japanese was deafening and the crowd chanting his name calling out their hero must rank among the very best feelings in Kobayashiâ€™s career.
After the first lap mayhem that claimed multiple cars including Alonso and Rosberg, it was a relatively measured Japanese Grand Prix. Hamilton finished a relatively uninspired drive in 5th place ahead of Raikkonen who staved off the charging Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Maldonado finished just behind in 8th while Webber finished in 9th. Daniel Ricciardo had to absorb loads of pressure from Michael Schumacher but eventually kept him at bay to take the all important final championship point.
The win was Vettelâ€™s 24th F1 win and third this season keeping Red Bull well ahead in the Constructors championship as well. Alonso put on a brave face saying, â€œIt happened to me this time, it could happen to him next time. It becomes almost a mini championship now and we have to win one point more than the other guyâ€.Vettel concurred saying that things were quite unpredictable in F1 but was undoubtedly focussed on the final championship phase. Raikkonen and Hamilton are still in with a chance with 157 and 152 points respectively, but both will need a massive step up in pace and consistency to mount a serious title tilt in the remaining five races.