Sebastian Vettel has become the youngest double champion in F1 history. He joins a select band of champions to take their crown at Suzuka, ranking alongside the likes of Senna, Prost and Hill. He’s a modern-day great. His 3rd place finish in Japan, was ironic in a sense, only the 6th time he’s finished off the top step of the podium, however, it was much more than the single point that was needed to confirm victory in what has been a dominant season for the young German.
Jenson Button will take solace in the fact that he and his McLaren performed a lot better than Vettel on the day, giving hope that next season will be a tighter battle for the title. Button and Vettel looked odds-on to collide going into the first corner, Vettel swerving over to block the Briton off, in what looked an unfair move, as he battled to keep the car on the road. Teammate Lewis Hamilton, took advantage of the situation and overtook, leaving Button to complain on the team radio, demanding a penalty for the World Championship leader. This fell on deaf ears.
Hamilton was quickly re-overtaken during the formative laps of the grand-prix by Button, as he once again failed to get to grips with his tyres, becoming the first of the frontrunners to come in and pit on lap 9. The rest followed, but Vettel was kept in close company by Button, never gaining as substancial lead as he has become accustomed to in recent races. Button chewed away at his lead, and came out of the second round of pitstops ahead of the German. He kept the lead steady, until a Safety Car was need on lap 25, due to an early collison between Hamilton and rival Felipe Massa, the second in two races between the pair. However, Button’s excellent restart, meant he had no reason to worry about a sneaky overtake from the Red Bull of Vettel. His teammate, Hamilton, also escaped without a penalty, but was still toiling down in 5th and 6th place, never managing to find enough pace to challenge the top 3 of Button, Vettel and Fernando Alonso, in the sister Ferrari.
Alonso, had a quiet race, but crept past Vettel during round 3 of the pitstops, as the German took an unusually early stop for the prime tyres, paying the price and coming out in 9th position, behind a lot of traffic. The Spaniard took advantage, and kept the second place, a late push for the victory just coming up short, as he finished a second of Jenson Button. Forgotten man Mark Webber was also quiet, struggling in the early part of the race, but coming back strongly towards the end, leapfrogging Massa and Hamilton during pitstops, and finishing behind Vettel in 4th place. He’ll be disappointed at his season’s work, as he’s not yet gained a race victory, a year after being one of the four title challengers to Vettel.