Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull has stormed to victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, cutting Fernando Alonso’s lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship to just four points.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was second on the checkered flag at the Suzuka circuit to return to the podium after a two-and-a-half year break.
Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi delighted the home fans with a third-place finish, with the Sauber man surviving serious pressure from Jenson Button of McLaren in the final laps.
Meanwhile, Alonso’s race ended in the very first corners, with his Ferrari turning around after a contact with the car of Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus.
"I saw there was a safety car at the very beginning, we had a very good start which was very important as behind me there was a crash," Vettel is cited as saying by Daily Mail newspaper. "I saw a Ferrari had crashed, but I was not sure who it was, but halfway through the race I looked at the (timing) tower to see where the others are and I saw the car that was still racing was Felipe, so I assumed Fernando was not racing any more."
As for Russia’s only representative in the sport, Vitaly Petrov finished in 17th position on the day.
The Caterham driver’s race was spoiled by KERS problems and a drive through the pits for ignoring the blue flags.
With five races to go in the season, there are two drivers left in the championship battle.
Alonso leads the way with 194 points, but defending champ Vettel in now just four points behind.