Though sixth place in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway at the weekend marked his fifth points-scoring finish in as many outings, Sebastian Vettel revealed that it could have been better still but for losing out on the opening lap.

Having begun the race from ninth on the grid, the 21-year-old German - who became the youngest driver ever to set pole position and triumph in Formula 1, when he swept to the top spot in both qualifying and the grand prix at Monza last month - conceded ground into the first corner when he found himself one of the losers from Lewis Hamilton's ultra-late braking.

From there Vettel admitted things had been something of a struggle, as he found himself stuck behind slower cars, and he only really managed to demonstrate his true pace later on in the race when he rose to seventh place, though he would be promoted to sixth after team-mate S?bastien Bourdais was controversially penalised 25 seconds for his clash with Felipe Massa [see separate story - click here].

"At the first corner I was forced to run wide," the man from Heppenheim recounted. "There was an incident on the inside and I lost a lot of places. After that it was difficult to fight my way back.

"Nevertheless, [it was] a strong showing from us, even if we could have been looking for a few more points. Two more races to go, [and] I hope to add to our total in both of them."

Vettel's performance also drew words of praise from the small Faenza-based concern's team principal Franz Tost, with his three points helping to take STR further ahead still in its scrap with 'parent' outfit Red Bull Racing and Williams over sixth spot in the constructors' world championship.

"Another really good race for one of the Red Bull teams," Tost underlined, his words barely concealing the fact that STR had once again comprehensively out-paced RBR. "Vettel struggled a bit at the start, completing the opening lap eleventh, then he put in a strong performance, which strengthens our position in the constructors' championship.

"Now we are looking forward to racing in China in a week's time, where we will do our best to continue this positive trend."

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