Sebastian Vettel said he always felt in control of the race after he kept his title hopes alive with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The young German lead from start to finish at Suzuka, claiming his third Grand Prix win of the season.

"We already had pole position and strategy-wise we were the favourites but first of all you have to do the start," the Red Bull ace said. "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 saw a McLaren on my left-hand side, but I had the inside line. 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 and a lap longer than Jarno in the first stint, so it all worked out and I was pretty much in control of the race."

Vettel added that the late Safety Car period didn't give him too much cause for concern - with the Renault of Romain Grosjean between him and the chasing pack - and he said he was thrilled to return to the top of the podium.

"A safety car is not what you want when you're in the lead, but I was still taking care of my tyres and had a good restart," he said. "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. 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."

There were contrasting fortunes for the team, as Mark Webber's race was hampered by a bizarre problem with his headrest.

"I had to make two pit stops on the first two laps, so it was all over from there," the Australian said. "On the first lap, the headrest came loose in the car, so I had to come in and get that fixed. I went back out, but the same thing happened so I had to come in again in order for the guys to tape it down. We tested some things today, and tried some other items for future races. That's all we could really do from there."

Team principal Christian Horner was elated with the performance of Vettel and even tried to take some positives from Webber's race weekend.

"A brilliant job by Sebastian today. He's been on it all weekend and he looked like he really enjoyed himself out there," he said. "For Mark, this was the weekend from hell - with a chassis change overnight, then issues on the first lap with a headrest that had somehow come loose and then a puncture. After that the race was little more than a test, but it's encouraging that right at the end he got the fastest lap time as a small consolation."