Jenson Button upheld his side of the F1 world championship battle by winning the Japanese Grand Prix for McLaren, but third place for Sebastian Vettel was enough for the German to become the ninth back-to-back world champion in F1 history.
Vettel led the opening laps of the race, after a hard block on Button at the start, but Red Bull appeared to be pushing its tyres harder than McLaren and pitted its lead driver earlier than expected throughout the race. Button, having dropped to third, behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, as a result of Vettel's chop, was gifted second spot when Hamilton punctured on lap eight, and was ideally placed to restake his claim for victory when Vettel pitted a lap later.
The crucial switch of positions became permanent during the second round of stops, when Button - again stopping after his rival - managed to emerge in front of Vettel and, despite both a safety car and the late attentions of Fernando Alonso, who also got the better of Vettel at the third round of stops, held on to take the chequered flag for the third time this season.
While the Briton stopped immediately after the line, however, Vettel was able to take the lap of honour his dominant 2011 form deserved.
The second Red Bull of Mark Webber came through to claim fourth, despite a brush with Michael Schumacher behind the safety car, while Hamilton escaped yet another brush with Felipe Massa to finish in fifth. Schumacher, Massa, Sergio Perez, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg - from 23rd on the grid - rounded out the top ten.
Full report and results to follow....