Vettel wins in Japan, closes gap on leader Alonso
Sebastian Vettel put in a dominating performance in his Red Bull to win the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix here Saturday and close in on Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso.
The German led from the front to cross the chequered flag ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari and local hero Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber.
The retirement of Alonso (194 points) on the first lap due to a puncture after a rear-end shove from Kimi Raikkonen helped Vettel close the gap to just four points in the drivers' standings, with five races remaining.
"When you are dreaming at night, you dream one day about racing a car like that," said a jubilant Vettel. "The balance was so good and that's why there was a gap behind," he added, in reference to his 20-second winning cushion.
It was Vettel's third win of the season after Bahrain and Singapore.
For Massa it was a first podium finish since South Korea 2010. The achievement may have persuaded Ferrari bosses to stick with the Brazilian for next season.
Also in the championship hunt along with Alonso and Vettel are Raikkonen (157 points), who finished sixth to stay within 33 points of the leader, and Lewis Hamilton (152), whose fifth place kept him in contention a further five points back.
The F1 trail hits South Korea next week, before arriving in India, Abu Dhabi, the United States and finishing in Brazil November 25.
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
3. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
4. Jenson Button (McLaren)
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
8. Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
9. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
10. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
11. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
12. Paul di Resta (Force India)
13. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
14. Bruno Senna (Williams)
15. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
16. Timo Glock (Marussia)
17. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
18. Pedro de la Rosa (HRT)
19. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
Charles Pic (Marussia) Retired, lap 37
Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) Retired, lap 32
Sergio Perez (Sauber) Retired, lap 18
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Retired, lap 1
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Retired, lap 1