Sebastian Vettel has won the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka after starting from pole position. The Red Bull driver had the pace to beat team mate Mark Webber both in the qualifying session in the morning – postponed from a washed out Saturday – and in the race during the afternoon.
Fernando Alonso finished in a lonely third place after sometimes lapping considerably slower than the flying Red Bulls. Both the McLarens had dramatic races with Jenson Button finishing in fourth and Lewis Hamilton finishing in fifth.
A chaotic start to the race saw Lucas di Grassi crash out on his way to the grid and four cars – including Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov – retire from the race before the second corner. But the drama at the start wasn't yet over as Robert Kubica – who had moved into second place due to another slow start by Webber – lost his right rear wheel during the ensuing safety car period.
The Red Bulls bolted after the safety car, lapping over a second quicker than third placed Alonso. Hamilton was the first of those at the front to pit. He had spent the first stint behind Button who was much slower because he started on the harder tyres.
Once Hamilton had pitted, he put in a series of storming laps that meant he would likely clear Button when he stopped. Vettel and Alonso responded and pitted on the same lap, quickly followed by Webber. At this stage, Button led the race, but it wouldn't be for long. He just didn't have enough pace, and was only a few seconds ahead of the Red Bulls anyhow.
After Button pitted for soft tyres he quickly caught Hamilton – who had slowed with a broken third gear – but never had the pace to challenge third place Alonso. Michael Schumacher put in a good drive to finish sixth for Mercedes after team mate Nico Rosberg retired when the left rear wheel fell off his car.
Kamui Kobayashi finished seventh after passing at least five cars at the hairpin in dramatic moves, while Sauber team mate Nick Heidfeld finished in eighth. Rubens Barrichello in the Williams and Sebastian Buemi in the Toro Rosso completed the points positions.