Sebastian Vettel strengthened his world championship challenge with a second successive victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, leading from start to finish at Suzuka.
The German, the class of the field through a disrupted practice and qualifying schedule, finally added a second win from pole position in 2010, led home a Red Bull Racing 1-2 with points leader Mark Webber seemingly unable to do - or want to do - anything about it.
The rest, headed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton struggled to live with the pace of the RB6 around Suzuka, especially early on, with the Spaniard similarly not troubled in the 'race' for third.
Webber and Button both took turns to lead the race, albeit as a result of pit-stop strategy, with the Briton's decision to qualify and start the race on the harder tyre not paying off after a lengthy safety car period - which filled the first six laps - and better than expected performance from the option rubber. The world champion appeared set for fifth position, but was gifted fourth when McLaren team-mate Hamilton lost third gear - in his replacement gearbox - and dropped back.
After Lucas di Grassi failed to take the start, and Vitaly Petrov, Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg and Tonio Liuzzi contrived to bring out the safety car on lap one, a second pace car period loomed as Nico Rosberg lost a rear wheel with five laps remaining, but the stewards decided against potentially influencing the result.
Robert Kubica, a potential spanner in the works for all but Vettel after a lightning start from third on the grid, was forced to retire after just two laps after also losing a rear wheel.
Michael Schumacher, a charging Kamui Kobayashi, Nick Heidfeld, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi claimed the remaining points, while Heikki Kovalainen posted Lotus' best finish of the year in twelfth.
More to follow....
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