After qualifying for the F1 2010 Japanese Grand Prix was rained off on Saturday, Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a perfect day today at Suzuka claiming pole position and then sweeping to his third win of the season.
Vettel now moves up to joint second in the drivers' championship, 14 points behind his team-mate, Mark Webber, who was second in the sister Red Bull RB6 and who stays top in the drivers' championship. Remarkably, especially considering how dominant the team has been this year, it was only the Milton Keynes-based outfit's third one-two of the season. It was also only Vettel's second win from eight poles.
The race began rather chaotically and at the start Vitaly Petrov made contact with Nico Hulkenberg on the start-finish straight, while at the first corner Felipe Massa lost it at turn one and collected the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi. The safety car was immediately deployed as marshals scrambled to clear up the debris. Both incidents are to be investigated by the stewards.
Meanwhile, with Lucas di Grassi having gone out on his way to the grid – when he went off at 130R – the grand prix was five cars down before it had even really got underway. Indeed, it didn't stop there either and on lap 3, Robert Kubica, who had managed to split the Red Bull's off the start, had to retire after losing his right rear wheel.
On the re-start on lap 7, Vettel maintained his hold on top spot followed by Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and the rest of the pack.
Vettel then nursed a small 1-2 second lead over Webber until his pit stop on lap 25. Webber followed him in to change tyres one lap later and that gave Button P1, albeit only for 10 or so tours.
The McLaren man had opted to start on the hard tyre – the only top-ten qualifier to do so. But his gamble didn't really work out and when he finally stopped himself he rejoined in fifth.
That left Vettel and Webber to cruise home and both easily had the measure of their nearest challenger, winner of the last two races, Alonso. The Ferrari man eventually finished 2.7 seconds adrift.
Button moved up to fourth late on when with 13 laps to go his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton lost third gear. Hamilton eventually had to let the sister McLaren by on lap 43, powerless to resist. After his crash on Friday in first practice and then his five-place penalty for a gearbox change, it wasn't a weekend he will look back on fondly.