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Japan 2011 - Race highlights - Follow the action from Suzuka as it unfolded lap by lap

Published by Christine

An action packed race gets underway in Suzuka
An action packed race gets underway in SuzukaCredit: Hispania Racing

There was some great racing to behold at the Suzuka Circuit today as the Japanese Grand Prix unfolded before our very eyes. There was some start line contention, several different leaders throughout the race, and a safety car that came out despite no car flying off track. We saw another incident between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, and plenty of three stop strategies throughout the order.

If you missed any of the action, or want a quick reminder of a particular moment, here's the Factbyte Factbox's lap by lap live coverage.

As it happened: 2011 Japan - The Race

  • 06:00

    Hello there, good morning to you all, welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for the Japanese Grand Prix!

  • 06:01

    If it's early where you are, well done on being awake and ready for F1. If it's not so early where you are, still well done on being awake!

  • 06:02

    Sebastian Vettel could end his championship campaign here in victory, starting, as he does, from pole position.

  • 06:02

    For the championship to go any other way than into the German's hands, he needs to fall out of the points and Jenson Button needs to win.

  • 06:02

    Button starts beside him on the front row, and we all know that anything can happen... but I wouldn't hold your breath!

  • 06:04

    If you want a quick overview of what happened yesterday in qualifying, here's a 60 second round-up:

  • 06:04

    It's also worth noting the change in positions that occurred because so many of the cars aren't setting times in qualifying:

  • 06:05

    Kamui Kobayashi was promoted from tenth to seventh on account of having started a flying lap. That will please the fans, who have been cheering on their driver so far this weekend.

  • 06:06

    TweetTweet from @MyTeamLotus: Just over 1 hour to go. The cars are ready and have been fired up a couple of times already as part of the normal grid preparations.

  • 06:06

    If you're settling in to watch the race, do join in the live comments on Sidepodcast: Twitter, Factbyte Factbox and comments all in one place.

  • 06:08

    Don't forget to vote in the poll, either - Nico Rosberg starts on the last row of the grid, can he get into the points?

  • 06:08

    You can also vote on G+ and Facebook

  • 06:09

    TweetTweet from @sarahholtf1: The champion-in-waiting just strode through the paddock after the drivers' parade, ear-plugs in but still smiling & looking relaxed #bbcf1

  • 06:10

    Yesterday, both Sergio Pérez and Paul di Resta were feeling under the weather with some kind of flu. I hope they're feeling a bit better ahead of the race.

  • 06:12
    Circuit Data
    Suzuka Circuit
    Local timezone+0900 GMT
    First race1987
    Number of laps53
    Circuit length5.807km
    Race distance307.471km
    Start offset0.300km
  • 06:14

    Sebastian Vettel suffered something of a crash on Friday, but Red Bull flew in a new front wing via private jet - arriving just in time for qualifying.

  • 06:15

    Mark Webber starts from sixth on the grid but, of course, where he will be at the first corner is a whole other story!

  • 06:17

    Interview with Christian Horner: "We did not expect him to get the pole on that last lap. The McLaren's on a single lap this weekend have looked very strong... he just produced the most awesome of laps to get pole by the smallest of margins.

    "Friday didn't really go to plan... he had the slightest of glances with the barrier but did enough damage to the front wing to make it unusable... It was an absolutely Herculean effort from the guys and girls in the factory."

  • 06:20

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsF1Team: Mark Gillan, our new Chief Ops Engineer, believes this will be a race determined by deg rates of the option tyre...

  • 06:21

    Interview with Bruno Senna: "It was quite a big crash, but these guys did a great job to fix the car and put it back together in great shape for qualifying. I was under pressure because I knew the car was capable for top ten. Fortunately, we put a good lap together in Q1 and Q2, then strategy came up and we decided not to do any running in Q3."

  • 06:26

    Interview with Nico Rosberg: "It was not ideal yesterday, the car broke down. They couldn't repair it in time. Starting second to last is going to be difficult, but I'll give it my best. I'm convinced I can finish in the points, we'll see.

    "There's a lot of things I have to take into account, a lot of things are different, even getting to the grid. The lights go on straight away, so there are some procedures I normally do that I'll have to do super fast. Aggressive or not, I don't know, it's difficult to say.

    "I've seen this year that it's possible to do really well from the back, especially as you have all the new tyres, so I'll definitely be quicker than the other people. To overtake on this track, though, is definitely a bit of a challenge."

  • 06:27
    2011 Race Wins
    1Sebastian Vettel9
    2Lewis Hamilton2
    3Jenson Button2
    4Fernando Alonso1
  • 06:31

    Virgin driver's paradeThe Virgin drivers on the parade lap earlier, via @MarussiaVirgin.

  • 06:31

    If you need some more information, and some time to set up your screen, start with live timing:

  • 06:32

    Live text from Autosport: and from the BBC:

  • 06:33

    McLaren will also have their live data: as will Mercedes:

  • 06:33

    The pit lane is now open, engines are roaring, and drivers are making their way to the grid.

  • 06:33

    TweetTweet from @ToroRossoSpy: 30 mins to go. It's going to be a thriller, maybe not at the front end, but definitely round our part of the grid. Look at the crowd!

  • 06:34
    Lap Data
    (data from Williams F1)
    Fuel consumption2.9kg/lap
    Fuel laptime penalty0.3s/10kg
    Top speed316kph
    Average speed228kph
    Pit lane loss21s
    Pit lane length395m
  • 06:35

    TweetTweet from @MyTeamLotus: Both cars now heading to the grid. 2 laps apiece - 1 through the pitlane then into their gridslots

  • 06:36

    There's just the one DRS zone for this race, and it's at the start/finish straight. Also, the tyres in use are medium and softs - white sidewalls and yellow sidewalls respectively.

  • 06:40

    Interview with Jenson Button: "I don't think the inside is the best place to be here at the start, but we'll make the best of what we have. Our starts have been pretty good recently... It's a bit dirtier, I think our launches are very good and our KERS is strong."

  • 06:40

    Lewis looks very focused, standing under an umbrella and nodding sagely as his engineer briefs him.

  • 06:41

    HRT exit the garageHRT send their cars out to the grid, via @HRTF1Team.

  • 06:42

    Interview with Sebastian Vettel: "Going for glory, I think that's why we're here. If our target was to finish tenth, that would be a different target than we have today. I think McLaren have a very strong race pace, it will be a long race. We saw on Friday, I think the tyres will play the biggest role. We'll see who will conserve tyres best. Never forget Ferrari, I think they are often very surprising, especially when it concerns tyres."

  • 06:45

    Interview with Paul di Resta: "Feeling a bit better, I don't sound much better, but I think physically I should be in better shape than I was. It's going to be a long day today, but hopefully we should be fighting for points today.

    "We've certainly gone in the same direction [as Singapore], certainly for the race, not optimum for qualifying. It depends on the strategy and tyre wear, and how we can adapt to it."

  • 06:47
    Braking Analysis
    Turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial speed308km/h
    Final speed157km/h
    Stopping distance131m
    Braking time2.01s
    Maximum deceleration3.74g
    Maximum pedal load94kg
  • 06:48

    The Fukushima girls choir sing the national anthem, to cheers from the crowd. Kobayashi brought them to the race, supporting the tsunami victims as much as he can.

  • 06:50

    Red bull can fans You can't fault the enthusiasm.

  • 06:52

    TweetTweet from @lawrobarretto: Vettel and Button may be on the front row, but I suggest focusing on Hamilton and Massa on row two after their falling out in Singapore #f1

  • 06:53
    Grid Position
    1VettelRed Bull
    6WebberRed Bull
  • 06:54

    We've closed the polls and on Sidepodcast, 63% believe Rosberg can get into the points from 23rd on the grid.

  • 06:55

    16% have him retiring, particularly as he could get caught up in traffic at the first corner.

  • 06:55

    On Google+, 10 votes went for points, 4 finishing out of the points, and 2 people believe he'll retire.

  • 06:56



    Wind speed2.6mps
  • 06:57

    Less than five minutes to go before the start now, teams are making their last minute preparations on the grid, and getting ready to clear the way.

  • 06:57

    Vettel sits in his car, safely under an umbrella, but helmet glinting int he sunshine. He shuts his eyes in concentration, getting in the zone for what lies ahead.

  • 06:58

    Jenson Button looks more alert and active, keen to get the action underway. I don't think he's under an umbrella either, that side of the grid is in the shadow of the grandstands.

  • 07:00

    Kobayashi has his hands clasped, a quick prayer before the formation lap begins.

  • 07:00

    The grid clears, and the cars move away from their slots. Vettel leads the pack away and around the first corner.

  • 07:01

    Helicopter shots show the cars snaking their way round the circuit, weaving some heat into their tyres and passing the waving crowds as they go.

  • 07:02

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: Checo on medium, Kamui on soft tyres!

  • 07:03

    The pack backs up as they slowly approach the grid, drivers following each other until the last minute, then jinking right to their own slots.

  • 07:03

    Vettel waits at the front, ready for the lights to come on.

  • 07:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Vettel cut off Button's attempt to go forward, putting the McLaren onto the grass briefly. That allowed Hamilton through to second. Vettel retains his lead.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Further back, it was a clean start - crucially, Webber did NOT lose places off the grid. Crazy!

  • 07:05 Lap 1

    Kobayashi had a bad start, down to 12th position on his soft tyres. Paul di Resta is up to 8th, tucking up behind Schumacher.

  • 07:05 Lap 2

    RadioTeam radio from Button: "He's got to get a penalty for that, hasn't he? He's got to get a penalty for that."

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Vettel's pulling out a comfortable lead already, after just one lap.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Race Control: Turn 1 incident involving Vettel and Button under investigation by the stewards.

  • 07:07 Lap 3

    Replays of Kobayashi's poor start show that he just got away from the grid slowly, cars stream past him, and then he was caught up in traffic, trying to avoid a collision.

  • 07:08 Lap 3

    Race Control: DRS enabled.

  • 07:10 Lap 5

    TedNews: The case McLaren are putting to Charlie Whiting is that Vettel made a move, and then moved back to the racing line - so it was a deliberate crowding off track.

  • 07:13 Lap 6

    Fernando Alonso has passed Felipe Massa, who didn't seem to defend his position at all. Alonso looks to be faster anyway, opening up an immediate gap.

  • 07:14 Lap 7

    Replays show Liuzzi having a brief excursion off track, losing control in the Esses.

  • 07:14 Lap 7

    Rubens Barrichello easily slides past teammate Pastor Maldonado for 13th place. He'll be chasing Kobayashi next.

  • 07:15 Lap 7

    TweetTweet from @OfficialLRGP: Our guys on the mediums so should go further before first pit stop, but the mediums are about a second slower per lap

  • 07:15 Lap 8

    Race Control: Turn 1 incident involving Vettel and Button - no further action.

  • 07:17 Lap 9

    Jenson Button easily gets past Lewis Hamilton, as Lewis is super slow. Mechanics in the pitlane.

  • 07:18 Lap 9

    He comes in from fifth place, is it just a tyre problem? They bolt on fresh rubber and he leaves the pitlane 13th.

  • 07:18 Lap 9

    Ted reports that he had a rear puncture, hence coming in for the tyres early. Puncture and not wear.

  • 07:19 Lap 10

    Vettel pits from the lead, after briefly complaining on the radio about his own tyre wear. The soft compounds are wearing very quickly today.

  • 07:19 Lap 10

    Schumacher also pits, as Vettel heads out in sixth place after a quick, although relatively slow, stop.

  • 07:19 Lap 10

    More soft tyres on Vettel's car, so we should expect him back in another nine laps!

  • 07:20 Lap 10
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverS Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Pit lane22.374s
  • 07:20 Lap 10

    Jenson Button leads the race for now, he also has soft tyres on, so place your bets on when he will come in for a stop.

  • 07:20 Lap 10

    Button and Alonso both pit at the same time, at the end of lap ten. That puts Massa in the lead of the race for now.

  • 07:21 Lap 11

    Mark Webber and Paul di Resta are also into the pitlane, as Button retains his position over Alonso.

  • 07:22 Lap 11
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverJ Button
    Pit lane21.094s
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverF Alonso
    Pit lane21.147s
  • 07:22 Lap 12

    In RosbergWatch, he's up to 16th place, chasing down Pastor Maldonado. Neither have stopped yet.

  • 07:23 Lap 12

    Felipe Massa stops from P1, which promotes Vettel back to his rightful position in hte lead. Button stays second, with Alonso third.

  • 07:23 Lap 12

    Yellow flagYellow flag.

  • 07:24 Lap 13

    Sébastien Buemi is off and into the gravel. He's still sitting in the car for now as the marshals surround the Toro Rosso.

  • 07:24 Lap 13

    It looks like his front right tyre just fell clean off the car, he must have just been in for an unsuccessful pit stop.

  • 07:25 Lap 13

    RosbergWatch - he pits.

  • 07:27 Lap 14
    Gap Analysis
  • 07:27 Lap 14

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 07:27 Lap 14

    Vettel is up and lapping people already, lots of traffic in his path.

  • 07:27 Lap 15

    Two Renault drivers, Pérez, Maldonado and Alguersuari all have yet to stop.

  • 07:28 Lap 15

    Schumacher has passed Petrov, and regained seventh place - getting back the position he lost from pitting.

  • 07:29 Lap 16
    Inter-Team Battle
    Vitaly Petrov8th
    Bruno Senna12th
  • 07:29 Lap 16

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: Felipe is getting close to Hamilton

  • 07:30 Lap 16
    Battle for 4th
  • 07:31 Lap 17

    TedNews: Red Bull say that Webber is frustrated, but the car is fine. He feels he's just stuck behind the Ferrari of Massa.

  • 07:31 Lap 17

    As you'd imagine, there's a lot of Kobayashi spotting as well, as the local director makes the most of their airtime. He's currently down in 12th.

  • 07:32 Lap 17

    Pastor Maldonado comes into the pitlane, leaving just Petrov, Pérez and Alguersuari without a stop yet.

  • 07:34 Lap 18
    Driver Positions
  • 07:35 Lap 19

    Petrov pits, finally, for his first stop.

  • 07:35 Lap 19

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: #Checo still on the first set of medium tyres with a good pace! Keep on pushing!

  • 07:36 Lap 20

    Vettel and Webber both pit at the same time, but there's that much of a gap between them on track, it was easily doable.

  • 07:37 Lap 20

    TedNews: "That was brilliant work by the Red Bull mechanics. Credit to them. I don't think Webber lost much time, maybe a second, but they're giving themselves a pat on the back. Webber wants to try and undercut the Ferraris, and Vettel was in trouble with his tyres."

  • 07:37 Lap 20

    Worth noting that Massa is chasing down Hamilton, the McLaren's mirrors full of Ferrari at the moment. Less than a second between them.

  • 07:37 Lap 21

    Button comes in from the lead of the race, immediately responding to Vettel's early stop.

  • 07:38 Lap 21

    Button managed to come out in front of Vettel!

  • 07:39 Lap 21

    Sergio Pérez has come into the pits finally for his first stop, just as others are completing their second stop of the day!

  • 07:39 Lap 21

    Button leads and is already scampering off into the distance.

  • 07:39 Lap 22

    The Massa and Hamilton scrap looked as though it could have come to a head, but Hamilton pitted to avoid any trouble. And to get new tyres probably.

  • 07:39 Lap 22

    Alonso has also stopped.

  • 07:40 Lap 22

    Replays show Hamilton and Massa did touch before the McLaren pitted. Lewis was slow into the final chicane, and Massa closed up, they touched, and the Ferrari lost a piece of front wing.

  • 07:41 Lap 22

    The piece of Ferrari debris is currently sitting in the middle of the track. Will a plucky marshal run, run, run and retrieve it?

  • 07:42 Lap 23

    RosbergWatch - He's now up to 12th place, less than half a second off Rubens Barrichello, with the Williams his new target.

  • 07:42 Lap 23

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: "I didn't see Massa then, on the entrance to the chicane."

  • 07:43 Lap 24

    Vettel isn't letting Button run away with the lead, he's closing up a few tenths all the time.

  • 07:44 Lap 24

    Hamilton has ended up behind Schumacher, another driver he has plenty of history with.

  • 07:44 Lap 24

    SC BoardSafety car deployed.

  • 07:44 Lap 25

    It can only be for the debris from Massa's car, sitting in the middle of the chicane. Doesn't look like anyone has crashed.

  • 07:45 Lap 25

    Race Control: Debris on track at turn 7 and turn 16.

  • 07:45 Lap 25

    Schumacher and Di Resta both pit, as well as Kobayashi, Barrichello, Rosberg (RosbergWatch!) and D'Ambrosio.

  • 07:46 Lap 25

    Rosberg came out of his pit box alongside Kobayashi, the pair side by side down the pitlane, with the Mercedes coming out ahead.

  • 07:46 Lap 25

    The debrisThe debris that caused the Safety Car.

  • 07:47 Lap 25

    Race Control: Turn 16 incident involving Hamilton and Massa under investigation by the stewards.

  • 07:48 Lap 26

    Pitlane race in SuzukaRacing in the pitlane, as Rosberg gets ahead of Kobayashi.

  • 07:48 Lap 26

    RadioTeam radio to Massa: "Little bit of damage to the car, Felipe, but no big effect."

  • 07:49 Lap 27

    Looking at a replay, it looks more like an unsafe release from Mercedes right into the side of Kobayashi. We'll see if the stewards pick up that one.

  • 07:50 Lap 27

    TweetTweet from @HRTF1Team: After those second stops, Glock is now ahead of Daniel. Time to fight for that place

  • 07:50 Lap 27

    More replays show a coming together of Webber and Schumacher, that lost part of the Red Bull's front wing - is that the other debris that brought out the SC?

  • 07:51 Lap 27

    Race Control: Safety Car in this lap.

  • 07:51 Lap 27

    It looks like we were waiting for Trulli and Liuzzi to catch up to the back of the pack, so the safety car has been out a bit longer than necessary.

  • 07:52 Lap 28

    Jenson Button backed the pack up massively, but gets away cleanly on the restart.

  • 07:52 Lap 28

    Button leads Vettel and Alonso, then. Hamilton is behind Massa, with Schumacher behind the McLaren.

  • 07:53 Lap 28

    Petrov and Pérez are 9th and 10th, having stopped just once compared to twice for those in front of them.

  • 07:53 Lap 28

    Paul di Resta is in the last points position, RosbergWatch sees the Mercedes 12th.

  • 07:53 Lap 29

    We've had just the one retirement from Sébastien Buemi, whose tyre fell off after a dodgy pit stop.

  • 07:54 Lap 29

    Button sets the fastest lap of the race - 1:37.576. He and Vettel have been sharing the fastest laps so far.

  • 07:56 Lap 30

    Brundle fact: The top eleven, on the last lap, all did personal bests. They've got spare fuel, and their tyres have been saved a bit by the SC.

  • 07:58 Lap 31

    Petrov is falling back through the order rapidly, he was in front of Pérez in 8th, but has just lost a position to Sutil in 11th.

  • 07:58 Lap 31

    Rosberg also moves in on the Renault, Petrov is an easy target right now.

  • 07:58 Lap 32

    He's only stopped once, so his tyres are really old, but the strategy is losing him places right now.

  • 07:59 Lap 32

    Looks like there will be no action on the Massa/Hamilton incident.

  • 07:59 Lap 32
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:00 Lap 33

    Just behind Massa, Lewis Hamilton is catching, about half a second behind right now.

  • 08:00 Lap 33
    One to Watch
  • 08:01 Lap 33

    TweetTweet from @OfficialLRGP: So, the strategy is we go for the faster softs with the lighter car on a more rubbered track when those around are on the slower mediums

  • 08:02 Lap 34

    Vettel is into the pit stop again, third time in for the Red Bull. He's putting on the medium compound now.

  • 08:02 Lap 34
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverS Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Pit lane21.705s
  • 08:03 Lap 35

    There are 19 laps left of the race, so Vettel could potentially be going to the end of the race, although that seems like a long way off.

  • 08:03 Lap 35

    Mark Webber also pits - those Red Bull mechanics are being kept busy, busy.

  • 08:05 Lap 36

    Hamilton pits from 4th place, as Vettel is working through the traffic. He's passed Rosberg and is closing in on Sutil.

  • 08:06 Lap 37

    Button leads Alonso and Massa, but the McLaren comes into the pits to respond to Red Bull's stop.

  • 08:07 Lap 37

    Massa also comes in, leaving Fernando Alonso leading the race.

  • 08:07 Lap 37

    RadioTeam radio to Vettel: "Okay, Sebastian, we'll try to go to the end on that set of tyres."

  • 08:07 Lap 37
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverJ Button
    Pit lane20.998s
  • 08:08 Lap 38
    Top Speeds
    Sector 1Rosberg278kph
    Sector 2Webber310kph
    Sector 3Rosberg264kph
    Speed trapMaldonado305kph
  • 08:09 Lap 38

    Alonso pits, as out on track, teammate Massa is passed by Lewis Hamilton - a clean overtake, thankfully.

  • 08:09 Lap 38

    Mark Webber goes up the inside of 130R to get past a Force India.

  • 08:10 Lap 38

    It looks like Alonso managed to come out in front of Vettel as well, the Red Bull down to third in the overall scheme of things.

  • 08:11 Lap 39

    Vettel puts in the fastest lap so far - 1:36.931.

  • 08:12 Lap 40

    Petrov pits from 9th, as Pérez sets the fastest lap in 12th place.

  • 08:13 Lap 41

    Pérez closed up behind Maldonado, just avoiding contact, and getting past in a superb move. He's up 11th place now.

  • 08:14 Lap 41

    RosbergWatch - he's up in sixth, having only stopped twice. Just like Schumacher has only stopped twice and is leading right now.

  • 08:14 Lap 41

    Oh, Hamilton has overtaken Rosberg now. He's down to 7th. Meanwhile, up ahead, Button is about half a second off Schumacher.

  • 08:15 Lap 41

    Pérez and MaldonadoPérez overtaking Maldonado.

  • 08:15 Lap 42

    Schumacher pits, which releases Jenson Button into the lead.

  • 08:15 Lap 42

    Vettel has closed up to Alonso and the pair are scrapping for second place now. It was a half hearted move into the first corner, but Alonso knows he's there now.

  • 08:16 Lap 42

    Michael Schumacher comes out into the middle of the Massa/Hamilton battle.

  • 08:17 Lap 43

    Ten laps to go now.

  • 08:19 Lap 43
    Driver Positions
    102Di Resta3
  • 08:20 Lap 44

    Alonso is holding off Vettel well so far. The German won't want to risk anything crazy, given he could win the championship right now, but equally, he wants to win.

  • 08:21 Lap 45

    Kobayashi locked up going into the final chicane, plumes fly into the air, as the following cars make their way through the white smoke.

  • 08:21 Lap 46

    Replays show Vettel gesticulating wildly at a backmarker as he gets past. Angry Vettel.

  • 08:22 Lap 46

    Sutil puts in a fabulous move over Kobayashi, keeping in his foot in where others would have braked. It's only fabulous because it worked, of course, but he's up to 9th.

  • 08:23 Lap 47

    Meanwhile, Paul di Resta lost a place to Petrov, with Rosberg closing behind him. Petrov went wide on the grass, which backed up the Force India and allowed Rosberg past. The Mercedes will dispatch Petrov any minute now too.

  • 08:24 Lap 47

    Petrov passes Kobayashi to move into tenth place and the points.

  • 08:25 Lap 48
    Inter-Team Battle
    Vitaly Petrov10th
    Bruno Senna16th
  • 08:26 Lap 48

    RadioTeam radio to Webber: "Vettel has been told not to take any risks with Alonso. You should do the same please. No risk ahead."

  • 08:26 Lap 48

    Or in other words, Webber in fourth, don't overtake Vettel in third, pretty please.

  • 08:27 Lap 49

    Five laps left to go, and Alonso is catching Button for the lead. Two seconds between them at the moment.

  • 08:28 Lap 50
    Sector 2 Comparison
    Jenson Button43.7286kph
    Fernando Alonso43.5285kph
    Sebastian Vettel43.7281kph
    Mark Webber44.0310kph
  • 08:29 Lap 50

    Rosberg has moved up to tenth place, just managing to squeeze into the points at the moment.

  • 08:30 Lap 50

    TweetTweet from @tomcary_tel: If things stay as they are Button will lead Hamilton by 32 points in standings with four races remaining #battleofbritain #suzuka

  • 08:30 Lap 51

    There's just one second between race leader Button and Alonso now. How are his tyres? Three laps to go.

  • 08:32 Lap 52

    The gap increased just a little as Button put the hammer down - including a fastest middle sector of the whole race so far. 1.2 seconds between the pair now.

  • 08:33 Lap 52

    Fastest middle sector again for Button. He does like that middle sector.

  • 08:33 Lap 53

    Final lap. Button leads Alonso and Vettel.

  • 08:33 Lap 53

    Fastest lap of the race for JB - 1:36.568.

  • 08:34 Lap 53

    Chequered flagJenson Button wins the Japanese Grand Prix!!

  • 08:35

    Chequered flagSebastian Vettel wins the 2011 World Championship!

  • 08:35

    Jenson Button pulls to a stop out on track after crossing the line. He celebrates by standing on his car where it sits.

  • 08:36
    Race Winner
    DriverJenson Button
    Race time1:30:53.427
    Race distance307.471km
    Average speed202.972km/h
  • 08:37

    RadioTeam radio from an emotional Vettel: "Thank you so much. Every single won. We took nothing for granted. And we did it."

  • 08:37

    He's coasting around the track, waving all the way. Running wide wherever, it doesn't matter. He's the World Champion, even though he would have preferred to win this race.

  • 08:38
    Driver Positions
  • 08:38

    RosbergWatch - he did get into the points after all that. Only just, making up 13 places over the course of what was quite a tricky race!

  • 08:39

    Interview with Christian Horner: "It's unbelievable. It was a good race, obviously we'd have loved to have won it, but he's the world champion. He's driven magnificently this year, he absolutely deserved it. Congratulations to Jenson."

  • 08:40

    Fernando Alonso gives Vettel a tap on the helmet as the German extricates himself from the car. The new champ runs headlong into a crowd of Red Bull mechanics, all squealing happily.

  • 08:41

    Button was very low on fuel, having had to fend off the attack from Alonso in the last few laps, which explains stopping out on track.

  • 08:41
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:42

    The drivers make their way to the podium green room. Vettel takes a moment to get weighed, an enormous smile on his face. Big hugs and handshakes from the other two former champs as well.

  • 08:42

    Awkward moment, as Button asks Vettel about the start of the race, being pushed on to the grass. "That's how we're racing then," he says as Vettel denies any wrongdoing.

  • 08:45

    Button raises his trophy aloft, taking in the applause from the crowd. Vettel throws his trophy in the air as if it's a first place award.

  • 08:45

    Button congratulates him again, the tension from earlier lost as they celebrate with champaaaaagne!

  • 08:46

    Sebastian Vettel stays out on the podium for a moment longer than the others, taking one final round of applause from all.

  • 08:46

    Jenson and the champagneJenson sprays champagne as he takes victory in Japan.

  • 08:48
    Championship Standings
    1Sebastian Vettel309
    2Jenson Button185
    3Fernando Alonso184
    4Mark Webber182
    5Lewis Hamilton168
  • 08:48
    Championship Standings
    1Red Bull518
  • 08:49

    Press Conference Quotes - Jenson Button: "Thank you. I think this circuit is very special to all of us. We love this place, so to get a victory here in front of such an amazing Japanese crowd really does mean a lot. Big thanks to the team for the improvements we've had over the last few races. Congratulations to them."

  • 08:50

    Press Conference Quotes - Fernando Alonso: "First of all, congratulations to Sebastian, world champion. It was a fun race from the start, the strategy was quite important with a lot of tyre degradation. We picked the right moment to stop, we had the pace today to fight with McLaren and Red Bull. It's a good thing for the team. We've got back to a good level here, this podium means a lot to the team, motivation for the rest of the year."

  • 08:52

    Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It's difficult where to start. Obviously, it's such a long year and we had a fantastic year. The good thing is, it's not over. Today's race was not so easy. I think we weren't that quick on the soft tyres, as we hoped to be. We lost two positions. I think we had a very good car but it was difficult to get past Fernando. I think I got my move of the year in Monza, I don't think he's letting me through this way twice.

    "To win the championship here is fantastic. There's so many things you want to say in this moment, but it's hard to remember all of them. I'm so thankful to everyone in the team. We've got so many people working day in, day out. Pushing hard to build those two cars, and to fight for a lot of points, and fight for the championship. It's great to achieve the goal that we set ourselves going into this year."

  • 08:53

    TweetTweet from @PaulHembery: Well JB did it, Ferrari on the podium, and a deserving double world champion in Seb. 3 amazing drivers. Wonderful.

  • 08:55

    Press Conference Quotes - Jenson Button: "It gives us, as a team, a lot of motivation. It's good, as Sebastian said, to see three different cars within about three seconds. It shows how competitive F1 is at the moment. There's a lot of fans here, and I think we all tried to do a little bit to plant a good memory in their minds. It's a special race and a very special crowd, we need to thank them for supporting us.

    "Lastly, it should be Seb we talk about. This guy's done a great job this year, however hard we tried we couldn't touch him. Great job fella."

  • 08:56
    Sébastien BuemiWheel fell off12
  • 08:57
    Lapped Cars
    PosDriverLaps Down
    20Timo Glock2
    21Jérôme D'Ambrosio2
    22Daniel Ricciardo2
    23Tonio Liuzzi3
  • 09:02

    Interview with Christian Horner: "Just in the last eight laps, we reminded Seb that he didn't need to win this race. Obviously, he's a racer, he ultimately would have loved to have won this race. Prudence was the right thing to do. He's been so fantastic this year, to get this podium place, to get the championship in Japan, it's just a phenomenal achievement."

  • 09:03

    Interview with Adrian Newey: "Last year was obviously very special. For Red Bull to come from a startup team in 2005 to win the championship last year was very special. But this year, to show it wasn't just a flash in the pan, to keep up that consistency is a great tribute to everyone in Milton Keynes. All the effort that's gone in there, is fantastic for the team."

  • 09:05

    Interview with Martin Whitmarsh: "I think the first one is always the biggest one for any driver, but I think to win twice, back to back like this, shows he's mature. He's really driven faultlessly this year. He's done the job you'd expect a world champion to do.

    "I think [the start] was a fairly testy effort. Jenson made a good launch and had he not been driven off the road, he could have got by. I think that just added to Jenson's enthusiasm for the race."

  • 09:08

    Interview with Lewis Hamilton: "A bit of a shocking race, to be honest. Jenson did a fantastic job and that's great for the team points and obviously congratulations to Sebastian. We knew that was going to happen, but it was a bit of a perfect season for him. Just going to keep my head up and keep going, not give up, and hopefully in the next race we'll have another chance.

    "The only thing I have to say is that I can't see anything out of my mirrors and they vibrate so much down the straight. I had no idea Massa was there. Maybe that's something we can fix but I had no problem with him.

    I think Jenson has shown that [we have a better car] today with a remarkable race. My job, and my hope, is to try and pick up some pace from somewhere. I was just struggling, I didn't have any grip, I was gobsmacked to be honest. That's the way it goes, we'll work as hard as we can to try and pick up the race."

  • 09:09

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: Joke of the day. #Checo shouting on the radio during the last lap 'I lost power, I lost power' while smiling and crossing the finish line!

  • 09:14

    TweetTweet from @HRTF1Team: The Japanese GP finishes, Daniel is P22 and TonioP23. Good fight by the boys given the circumstances

  • 09:14
    2011 Race Wins
    1Sebastian Vettel9
    2Jenson Button3
    3Lewis Hamilton2
    4Fernando Alonso1
  • 09:18

    Interview with Paul di Resta: "I'm okay physically. Not too bad, my voice is a bit worse. I think the safety car spoiled it a little bit for us. That was our fastest part of the race. The start was awesome, I went in with hopes that would happen. I think it was just unfortunate at the end to get pipped by people on options. The strategy we went for was quite aggressive, maybe it would have paid off, but you'll never know now the safety car came out.

    "It's going to be difficult, you can see that Sauber have caught up. Renault are back on form. We've got tracks that are quite technical. We're in the mix of it, it's just who can do the best job over a weekend."

  • 09:24

    Interview with Nico Rosberg: "I was hoping to be a bit higher up, I was hoping to be, mmm, eighth, but that's okay. I'm pleased. At least one point is worth something. All the effort wasn't for nothing. In general, it was a bit of a difficult weekend. Everything worked out fine, I was quite pleased, the balance of the car and everything.

    "Hopefully a more normal weekend in Korea, and the possibility to get further up there."

  • 09:25

    Rosberg finished tenth, picked up that single point, which means the majority of our voters in the polls were correct. He didn't quite get as high as Schumacher, though.

  • 09:26

    The Red Bull mechanics have t-shirts on, celebrating the championship - they read: Sebastian Vettel F1 Driver World Champion 2011.

  • 09:27

    The mechanic suggests they got them printed this week, as there was only one point in it. Fairly confident, they were.

  • 09:29

    That's about it for the Japanese Grand Prix. Jenson Button makes it a hat trick of wins so far in 2011, with Vettel wrapping the championship.

  • 09:29

    Further down the order, there was some good points for Pérez and Petrov, who two stopped their way through to 8th and 9th.

  • 09:30

    The Force India drivers missed out on some points positions, finishing 11th and 12th, whilst Bruno Senna fell far down the order from his top ten grid slot, ending up 16th.

  • 09:31

    At one point, Kovalainen was running up in 14th, but ends the race 18th, once again just top of the new teams. Both Virgin and HRT cars were lapped, but Lotus remained on the lead lap.

  • 09:32

    There are four races left of the 2011 season now, with the next in Korea - it's back to back racing, so the teams move on straight away to South Korea for next weekend.

  • 09:33

    We'll be back then as well, so I hope you'll join us. It's been a fab weekend. Stay tuned to Sidepodcast and F1Minute for all the post-race wrap up and discussion, and we'll do this all again in seven days time!

All content in the series Japan 2011