Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to win back-to-back races this season but there were plenty of strong performances throughout the field. Who was your driver of the day?
Looked quick in Friday practice and followed that up with a stunning lap in his first run in qualifying to start on pole position in Japan for the fourth successive year. Made a textbook start to avoid the carnage behind him and from then on controlled the race at the front to win his second successive race and third of the season. Victory also moved him to joint-eighth on the all-time list alongside Juan Manuel Fangio on 24 as well as bringing him to within four points of championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Arrived in Japan fighting for his Ferrari seat for 2013 but was immediately on the pace and was consistently beating his more illustrious team-mate Alonso. Looked quick in the first session of qualifying, but didn’t deliver when it mattered in Q2 and qualified 11th. That became 10th following Nico Hulkenberg’s gearbox penalty. Starting on fresh tyres, the Brazilian blasted out of the blocks, avoiding the first corner carnage to run fourth early on. Jumped both Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi during the stops to move into second. Couldn’t keep pace with Vettel but drove well to finish second and score his first podium since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.
Faced question marks over his future at Sauber and was under pressure to perform in front of his home crowd. Delivered strong pace in practice and achieved one of his best qualifying results by finishing fourth fastest. That became third following Button’s gearbox penalty. Avoided the first corner mess to run second but dropped to third when Massa leapfrogged him during the stops. Withstood strong pressure from Button in the closing stages to finish third and score his first F1 podium and first for a Japanese driver on home soil since Aguri Suzuki in 1990.
Qualified seventh and had a good start pulling alongside Alonso before tapping the Ferrari driver on the approach to Turn One. Picked up damage to his front wing from the contact but managed to continue. Ran strongly from then, and though he lost fifth place to Hamilton, held on to finish sixth – his 14th points finish in 15 races.
Put himself on the back foot by crashing in Saturday practice, but did a super job to get himself out of Q1 having been rushed into the car with only a few minutes remaining. Reached Q3, but dropped back five places from 10th because the gearbox had to be changed following damage. Drop strongly from 15th to rise up to eighth by the end of the lap. Race strongly to make another place and finish seventh – his seventh points finish of the season.
Outpaced Williams team-mate Bruno Senna once more in both practice and qualifying, but failed to make it into Q3 and started 12th. Made a clean start and kept his nose clean, gradually making up places to run eighth. Held on to that position to score his first points finish since taking his first and only victory in the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Started 14th but lost a position to Hulkenberg as he struggled to get away. Made some places up thanks to the first corner incident and enjoyed a good battle with Mark Webber in the middle part of the race. Held off Michael Schumacher brilliantly in the closing stages to finish 10th for his fourth points finish of the season.