Sebastian Vettel was back to his dominant best at Suzuka, untouchable from lights to flag as he claimed the first back-to-back win of any driver in the unpredictable 2012 F1 season.
"It's been a fantastic weekend," he agreed. "Yesterday's qualifying was perfect and today again, the balance of the car was amazing," he said, adding that they'd needed to make minimal changes during the race. "It just seemed to work fantastically well."
"A great result for Sebastian," said Red Bull
team principal Christian Horner. "It was a textbook drive for Sebastian today, he really was in a class of his own."
It wasn't just the margin of his domination in the Japanese Grand Prix
that will have worried his rivals, it's also the fact that this sudden jump in performance had been achieved without any major technical upgrades to the car.
"The guys have been pushing very hard and even though we didn't have major upgrades here, it still seemed to come together and the balance was there," he said. "That's what made the difference today."
Vettel's victory is his 24th Grand Prix win, putting him on an equal footing with one of the all-time greats of the sport, Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio. Learning this took the F1 history buff off guard, and the emotions were clear as he contemplated his achievement.
But as much as Vettel loves the past of the sport, it's the future he's firmly focused on right now. His win and Fernando Alonso's first lap retirement utterly transforms the drivers championship battle and closes up the margin between them to just 4pts going into next weekend's race in Korea.
"To win in such a dominant fashion really closes up the Championship," agreed Christian Horner.
"It's a shame for Alonso, it's not something you hope for and it could happen to us at the next race," pointed out a more cautious Vettel. "We've seen this year there are a lot of up and downs and things change quickly. We have to keep our heads down and take it step by step."
It should really have been a Red Bull
1-2 in Japan, but Mark Webber
ended up getting run into by Romain Grosjean
in the aftermath of Alonso's spin which meant that recovering to a points finish was a minor miracle in its own right.