It's been a long time since a Japanese driver stood on a podium at the end of an F1 Grand Prix - Aguri Suzuki in 1990, to be specific - and the adoring crowd at Suzuka were ecstatic that a little piece of history had been made before their very eyes.
Even before Kamui Kobayashi appeared on the podium, the chanting for "Kamui! Kamui!" was roaring up from the crowd. The only person in Japan more swept away by the emotion of the moment was the driver himself.
“It hasn't sunk in yet, it is hard to believe," said the 26-year-old. "I achieved my first podium in Suzuka!"
"A podium finish for Kamui in his home country is simply incredible," said Sauber's CEO Monisha Kaltenborn. "I can't express how happy I am!
"He did an outstanding race today, particularly in the final part when he was under huge pressure from Jenson Button," she added. "He didn't make the smallest mistake and defended his third position in great style."
Kobayashi was helped by his excellent qualifying performance on Saturday, which meant that he was safely ahead of the fall-out from Fernando Alonso's spin in the first corner at the start of the race.
"Starting from third obviously helped a lot and also the long run I did on Friday made me very confident for the race," he said. "I had a very long last stint today and Jenson changed for fresh tyres later. My rear tyres where really bad in the end and I had a lot of oversteer.
"But regardless of this I had to push to defend my podium place," he continued. "Only during the final lap did I allow myself to really think I can keep him behind me, because then the best overtaking opportunity at the end of the straight was over, and then I saw all the fans and the raised hands. It meant a lot to me and I want to thank the Japanese fans."
Kobayashi gave his thanks to the Sauber team that had made it possible for him to feature so strongly in his home Grand Prix this weekend.
"The Sauber F1 Team did a great job to recover from there," he said. "The team has built a great car this year. You can tell this from the podium finishes my team-mate has had.