• Japanese GP

Vettel dominates at Suzuka to close on Button

ESPNF1 Staff
October 4, 2009
Race winner Sebastian Vettel leaps for joy on the podium © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory at Suzuka, putting himself back in contention for the title, after Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button finished well down the order in seventh and eighth. He never looked under threat, keeping a comfortable gap between his Red Bull and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli, who fended off McLaren's Lewis Hamilton for second.

Vettel held position starting from pole, keeping Hamilton behind him as the McLaren attempted to drive around the outside in the first corner. Three laps into the race and Vettel had pulled out a five-second gap over Hamilton who was instantly under threat from Trulli. The battle for second place was the main source of interest for the rest of the race, as the pair traded quick lap times in an attempt to gain advantage at the pit stops. Trulli eventually emerged victorious, when Hamilton lost crucial seconds due to a momentary loss of power exiting the pits after his second stop.

Meanwhile, Button put in a solid performance from his lowly grid position to finish ahead of his Brawn team-mate Barrichello and limit damage to his championship lead. The race's highlight was his brave move up the inside of Robert Kubica into the final chicane, which was crucial to his pit-stop strategy.

Jaime Alguersuari's massive accident at the 180mph 130R corner made for some late drama and also brought out the safety car. Controversy followed when Nico Rosberg did not receive a penalty for speeding under the caution period - a decision that gifted the Williams driver fifth place behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Nick Heidfeld finished sixth, ahead of the Brawns and BMW team-mate Robert Kubica in ninth. All four lost out on extra points as a result of Rosberg's misdemeanour.