Button wins, while Vettel seals title in Suzuka

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Sebastian Vettel is the new 2011 Formula 1 world champion!

The German driver finished 3rd in today’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button winning the race, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Vettel lost the lead at the second round of pit stops, then fell behind the Ferrari later on. However, with no obligation to race for the win, he calmly sat back and clinched his second world title. Here is the full report:

At the start, Button made the best getaway, but was blocked by the Red Bull in front. This allowed Lewis Hamilton to sweep around the outside of Turn 1 and take 2nd place. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi slipped to 12th.

However, Button was less than pleased with the German’s move, and was complaining to his team for a penalty. Fernando Alonso easily moved past teammate Felipe Massa for 4th place.

While Lewis clung on to Vettel at the start, he appeared to slow with a slow puncture on Lap 9. He pitted, releasing Button to catch the Red Bull.

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Sebastian pitted on Lap 10, while Button and Alonso picked up the pace. Both cars, plus Mark Webber, all stopped the following lap. Once the running order calmed down, it became clear that Hamilton had lost two places from his tyre problems.

Sebastien Buemi became the first retirement of the day, as a faulty wheel came off during his pit stop, and the Toro Rosso coasted to a halt in the gravel trap.

The gap between first and second was only 2 seconds, while the top 6 were separated by just 9 seconds. Oddly enough, it soon became apparent that Lewis Hamilton was again struggling with his tyres, allowing Felipe Massa and Mark Webber to give chase behind.

Vettel’s tyres wore off quicker than expected, with both Red Bulls pitting on Lap 20 – with only a few seconds between each pit stop. Jenson followed the same strategy, and emerged just ahead of the championship leader.

Within a few laps, the safety car was deployed. As Felipe Massa tried a move on Lewis Hamilton at the final chicane, Lewis squeezed the Ferrari and broke off a piece of Massa’s front wing, which landed in the middle of the track. The debris was causing cars to swerve to avoid it under braking, and the situation was deemed unsafe.

The safety car pitted after several laps, and Jenson tore away by over half a second per lap. Nico Rosberg continued his ascent through the field, pushing Vitaly Petrov aside to take 11th.

After being reeled in by Alonso, Vettel chose to switch to the harder tyre on Lap 34. Webber followed the tyre call the following lap, indicating heavy tyre wear by the Red Bulls.

Sebastian emerged behind Adrian Sutil, getting badly held up for a lap before passing the Force India. Despite being on the prime tyre, he set the fastest sector 1 time the next lap, prompting Button to bring forward his stop.

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Fernando Alonso pitted two laps later, and emerged ahead of Vettel. Meanwhile, Hamilton made a slightly more safe pass on Massa on the pit straight. For a few laps, Michael Schumacher was actually granted the lead of the race due to the pit stop, the German leading a race for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

However, he soon pitted, slipping to 6th. Meanwhile, the battle for 2nd place began to heat up, with Vettel attempting several passes on Alonso, with the Ferrari driver cutting Sebastian off at every opportunity. Soon though, these battling cars began to catch Jenson Button at quite a considerable rate.

With 5 laps to go, the gap between first and second was 2.1 seconds. However, Jenson was able to pull out enough pace to maintain the gap to Fernando behind.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Button crossed the line to take an excellent victory, while Sebastian Vettel clinched the title from 3rd place. Interestingly enough, Jenson pulled over after the chequered flag, indicating the McLaren was extremely short on fuel.

The podium celebrations featured three world champions, one of which had just become the youngest ever back-to-back winner. After 9 wins out of 15 races, it is without doubt that it has been a fantastic season for the young German.

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