SUZUKA, October 10, 2010 – Germany's Sebastian Vettel Sunday won the Japanese Grand Prix for the second consecutive year leading a Red Bull 1-2 at the Suzuka circuit.The 23-year-old who started from pole recorded his third victory of the season, with championship leader Mark Webber finishing second, 0.9 seconds adrift.
It was Red Bull’s third 1-2 finish of the season after Malaysia and Monaco. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third, 1.8secs behind Webber, while McLaren teammates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were fourth and fifth, Hamilton nursing an ailing car to the finish with gear selection issues.
Vettel praised his "magnificent" car after his first victory since the European Grand Prix at Valencia in June, which sees him jump to third in the championship standings.
"It’s about time," said the 23-year-old after his third victory of the season.
"This track is like it has been drawn for us with all the high-speed corners. It’s always a pleasure (to drive). When the car was getting lighter and lighter (with fuel) at the end, it was more and more fun.
"You want to push every single lap, because the car is magnificent around here."
Vettel was quickest to react when the lights went out to start the race, leading a slow-starting Webber off the line.
The Australian was passed into the first corner by Renault’s Robert Kubica, but a safety car period slowed the race as quickly as it had started.
Kubica’s teammate, Russian Vitaly Petrov, smashed into the wall on the outside of the circuit trying to avoid the slow-starting Williams of Nico Hulkenberg, while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa clashed with Force India’s Tonio Liuzzi at the first turn, both drivers retiring on the spot.
Kubica then retired under the safety car when the right rear wheel of his Renault worked loose on lap three, leaving Webber to chase Vettel when the race re-started four laps later.
Button, the only driver in the top 10 to start on the more durable harder tyre, led the race for 13 laps in the middle stages before his pit stop for softer rubber dropped him to fifth.
He regained a place when Hamilton was forced to slow with gear selection problems with nine laps remaining.
There was drama before the race when Brazilian Lucas di Grassi, who qualified 21st for Virgin Racing, had a big accident at the 130R corner on his reconnaissance lap to the grid.
The 26-year-old tore a wheel and the rear wing from his car in the bizarre smash, but was able to escape unhurt.
Vettel’s win sees him move to third in the championship standings on 206 points.
The victory was the eighth of Vettel’s career, and he joins Mika Hakkinen (1998, 1999) and Michael Schumacher (2000-02) as the only drivers to win consecutive races at the high-speed 5.8-kilometre track.
With three races remaining, Webber leads with 220 points, while Alonso is second on 206, edging the German on race wins for the season. Hamilton drops a place to fourth on 192 points, while Button remains fifth on 189.