Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have sealed his second successive title at Suzuka, but there were plenty of exciting battles all the way down the field in what was another unpredictable race.
So who was your Driver of the Day?
Dominated the weekend leading up to qualifying by topping the times in all three practice sessions. Missed out on pole position by 0.009 seconds to start second. Pushed towards the grass by Vettel at the start and lost a place to team-mate Hamilton, but kept calm and maintain the gap to the leader while looking after his tyres. Jumped Vettel at the second round of stops and held off a late charge from Alonso to win what he describes as his second home race. Admittedly saw his slim title hopes finally end but was pleased to seal his third win of the season and fifth successive podium.
Failed to mount a challenge for pole and was outqualified by team-mate Massa for only the second time this season, but raced through to second place. Starting fifth, he passed Massa early on and then got by Hamilton in the first round of stops. Looked after his tyres well and then jumped Vettel at the final round of stops. Started to reel in leader Button but ultimately had to settle for second. It was the team’s best result since Germany in July and keeps him in the battle for second place in the drivers’ standings.
Went off track on Friday and broke the car’s brand new front wing. Failed to make an impression in any of the weekend’s three practice sessions but recovered, with the aid of a new front wing which was flown in just in time for qualifying, to score his 12th pole position of the season. Made an aggressive start from pole to defend the lead but lost out to Button at the second round of stops. Dropped behind Alonso at the final stops and though he wanted to chase the Ferrari driver, the team told him to consolidate his position. Held onto third to win the title and become the youngest-ever double world champion.
Involved in an incident with Hamilton and Webber in qualifying which meant he ran out of time to set a flying lap. Started eighth and benefitted from a slow starting Kobayashi to make up a place before trying to pass Webber round the outside into Turn 1. The move didn’t pull off but the German managed his tyres well throughout the race so that he could do one less stop than those around him. Led the race briefly and also banged wheels with Webber before coming home a strong sixth and once again outperforming his team-mate.
Had a disastrous qualifying session when his car developed a hydraulics problem which meant he couldn’t set a time in Q2. Starting 17th and suffering from a cold, the Mexican fought his way through the field by maximising his two-stop strategy. Set the second fastest lap of the race, behind Button, on his way to eighth place – his fourth points scoring finish of the season.
Endured a nightmare qualifying where he failed to complete a single lap because of a hydraulics problem. Started 23rd but was up to 18th by lap two. Managed the safety car period well and used the extra sets of tyres, which he had left over as a result of not qualifying, to good effect and grab the last point in 10th.