Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel edged closer to his fourth successive world title with his fifth successive victory of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The German’s team-mate Mark Webber produced a late fightback to claim second with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who led for most of the race, a strong third.
Nico Hulkenberg produced another brilliant drive in the Sauber to finish sixth, one place ahead of team-mate Esteban Gutierrez who scored his first points in F1. But who was your Driver of the Day?
Fought back from a bad start to take his ninth win of the season and fifth in a row. Made a disappointing getaway from second, dropping a place to Grosjean and clipping the rear wheel of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at the first corner. Maintained a gap to team-mate Webber to conserve tyres and then ran a long middle stint to allow him to make a two-stop strategy work. Overtook Grosjean, who was on older tyres, in the final stint before coasting to victory at Suzuka for the fourth time in five years. Extended his lead over Fernando Alonso in the championship to 90 points meaning a top-five finish in India next time out will be enough to seal a fourth straight world title.
Recovered from a bad start and made the best of a three-stop strategy to score his fifth podium of the season. Made a bad getaway from pole and ran in second for most of the race. The team split strategies with Webber going onto a three-stop while his team-mate Vettel went for a two. Made his final stop and rejoined in third. Caught Grosjean quickly but struggled to pass him. Eventually made a move stick but it was took late to catch Vettel and he had to settle for second.
Made a superb start to lead the race before racing strongly to take a podium. Started fourth but got a good launch and drove down the inside of Hamilton, Vettel and Webber to take the lead. Spent much of his time at the front but made his second stop earlier than Vettel. On older tyres, he struggled to keep Vettel behind and dropped to second. Defended bravely in the final stint from Webber but eventually lost the position. Nevertheless, it was a strong drive for the Frenchman and his second successive podium as he bids to prove his worth to Lotus.
Outperformed stronger teams once again as he scored his fourth successive points finish. Made a good start and following a quick early pit stop found himself ahead of both Ferraris in fourth place. Held off Alonso for much of the race, but in doing so wore out his tyres. Eventually yielded to Alonso and looked on course for fifth before Raikkonen got past with two laps to go. Sixth remains a good result for the German as he rose to 10th in the drivers’ standings and enhances his reputation as he seeks a seat for next year.
Pulled off some bold overtaking moves as he scored his first points of the year. Looked quick all weekend ahead of the race but only qualified 14th. Made a great start to rise up a couple of places before the first stops. Had a great battle with Felipe Massa and pulled off a brilliant move on Jean-Eric Vergne down the pit straight and into Turn One to rise up into the points. Became the first of the five rookies on the grid this year to score a point.