x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Vettel wins in Suzuka to stay in title race

The German wins the Japanese Grand Prix to keep his title hopes alive today while Jenson Button had his overall lead trimmed.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was understandably delighted with his start-to-finish victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was understandably delighted with his start-to-finish victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

SUZUKA, JAPAN // Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix to keep his Formula One title hopes alive today while Jenson Button had his overall lead trimmed to 14 points with two races remaining. The 22-year-old Red Bull driver's third victory of the season left the German 16 points adrift of BrawnGP's Button, who inched closer to the crown with a hard-fought eighth place. "Finally we made it, I was screaming on the radio ... it's good to be back on first position," said Vettel, the first German from outside the Schumacher family to win three races in a single season.

Button's closest rival, his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello, crossed the line in seventh on a sunny afternoon at Suzuka. The Italian Jarno Trulli was second for Toyota in the team's home race, equalling their best result, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton hung on for third ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Germany's Nico Rosberg was fifth for Williams, with compatriot Nick Heidfeld sixth for BMW Sauber.

Button would have clinched the title had he scored five points more than Barrichello but that had looked highly unlikely since qualifying, when both were handed five-place grid penalties. Button's chances of sealing the championship in Japan seemed even more remote when he ended the first lap in 11th place, but he passed BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and was then gifted two more places when McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and Force India's Adrian Sutil collided just ahead of him.

Brawn, who emerged from the remains of the Honda team only weeks before the season started, were left a tantalising half-point away from becoming the first team to secure the constructors' title in their debut season. They now have 155 points to Red Bull's 120.5, with a maximum 36 still to be won. Vettel had led comfortably from pole position but his advantage evaporated when the safety car was deployed late in the race, after Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari crashed, and stayed out until four laps from the finish. The Spaniard was unhurt in the accident, and Vettel eased to victory.

* Reuters