Dominant Japanese win keeps Vettel in the title hunt 04 Oct 2009
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel brought his world championship hopes alive again with a superb victory in Japan on Sunday afternoon, winning as he pleased and leading Jarno Trullis Toyota home by 4.8s despite a late safety car intervention. Lewis Hamilton was third for McLaren, another 1.5s adrift, after losing out to Trulli in the second pit stops.
Seventh place for Rubens Barrichello, just ahead of Brawn team mate Jenson Button, leaves the championship points table as Button 85, Barrichello 71, Vettel 69 with two races remaining.
Ahead of the duelling Brazilian and the Englishman, Kimi Raikkonen brought his Ferrari home fourth after a fighting drive, while Nico Rosberg made some amends for his Singapore error by taking fifth for Williams. Nick Heidfeld was sixth for BMW Sauber.
It was not a classic race by any means, as Vettel went straight into the lead from Hamilton and Trulli. Heidfeld and Raikkonen soon settled into a fight which saw the Ferrari driver move ahead after the second stops, while Button benefited from a clash between Force Indias Adrian Sutil and McLarens Heikki Kovalainen at the chicane on the 13th lap to move to 10th after a slow start. That put him into contention for points.
It all seemed a foregone conclusion until Jaime Alguersuari spun his Toro Rosso exiting 130R on the 44th lap. That brought out the safety car from Lap 45 until Lap 49, closing the field and apparently giving Trulli and Hamilton a another shot at Vettel. However, Romain Grosjeans lapped Renault lay between the Red Bull and the Toyota, so that fight never materialised. Raikkonen had a brief look at Hamilton but soon dropped back to keep just ahead of Rosberg and Heidfeld. Further back, however, Button had a brief look at Barrichello at the chicane before having to defend his solitary point from hard-charging Robert Kubica in the second BMW Sauber.
Fernando Alonsos single-stop strategy for Renault earned him 10th place ahead of Kovalainen, who lost a place to Giancarlo Fisichella in their second pit stop but regained it by diving down the inside of the startled Italian as they left the pits. By the flag Fisichella had his former Force India team mates Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi right on his gearbox. Williams Kazuki Nakajima was 15th ahead of Grosjean, while Mark Webbers sole consolation from a day on which he started from the pits and went back there five times with various problems was fastest lap, set on the penultimate tour.
As if Toro Rossos day wasnt bad enough with Alguersuaris crash, Sebastian Buemi almost stalled on the grid and later retired with mechanical problems.
As the drivers world championship heats up, Brawn have all but settled the constructors with 156 points to Red Bulls 120.5, placing the latter within half a point of clinching that crown.