'I'm really, really happy and it's about time'
Sebastian Vettel cruised to Japanese Grand Prix victory on Sunday in a Red Bull one-two with Mark Webber, who stretched his Formula One championship lead to 14 points with three races remaining.
The German led from the pole he had secured only a few hours earlier and triumphed comfortably, despite taking the chequered flag just 0.9 seconds ahead of the Australian, for the second year in a row.
"I'm really, really happy and it's about time," said Vettel, after spraying the winner's champagne at Red Bull designer Adrian Newey, of his first win since Valencia in June.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, winner of the two previous races, finished third without ever looking like troubling the leading pair.
Image: Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the Japanese GP
'It is the first time I have won a grand prix for the second time'
McLaren's world champion Jenson Button, one of five title contenders, gambled by starting on harder tyres than the others but it failed to pay off and he finished fourth.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was fifth in a race that dealt a heavy blow to their chances.
Webber now has 220 points to 206 for Alonso and Vettel, with the Spanish double world champion having won four races to the German's three.
"It is the first time I have won a grand prix for the second time, so I think ultimately you have to fall in love with this track," said Vettel when it was pointed out that only two others had ever won in successive years at Suzuka.
Both of them, Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, went on to win the title.
Image: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel (right) and team-mate Mark Webber celebrate on the podium
'I was happy that I finished'
Webber lost second place to Renault's Robert Kubica at the start but gained it back when the Pole came to a halt on lap three with the rear right wheel missing from his car.
"A very good day for me," declared Webber. "It was probably difficult for me to win the race unless I got the start.
"It is a beautiful track but it is basically a formation finish. Both Sebastian and I just following each other around and it is very difficult to get much closer."
Hamilton, who started with a five-place grid penalty on a weekend where nothing went right for him and most things went wrong, dropped to fourth overall on 192 points with his hopes fading.
The tone of the afternoon for the Briton seemed set when he did the pre-race drivers' parade perched on a three-wheeled 'bubble car' while Webber and Vettel cruised around in Rolls Royces.
"I was happy that I finished," said the deflated 2008 champion. "I lost third gear as I was shifting up. It's a tough one for the team. Maybe this is a sign."
Image: Lewis Hamilton
Eventful race with mayhem at the start
Button fell further behind in fifth overall, with 189 points and just three races to try and make up a 31-points deficit if the Briton is to become the first driver since 1957 to win back-to-back titles with different teams.
It was the championship leaders' third one-two finish in 16 races. Red Bull now have 426 points to McLaren's 381 in the constructors' standings.
In an eventful race run in bright sunshine after heavy rain had made the track undriveable on Saturday and forced qualifying to be postponed to Sunday morning, the safety car was deployed for five laps after mayhem at the start.
Image: Force India's Liuzzi car rams into the wall after colliding with Ferrari's Massa
Five-place penalty for Petrov
Renault's Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov piled into the wall after colliding with Williams' Nico Hulkenberg, while Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa tangled with Force India's Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Stewards later handed Petrov a five-place penalty on the starting grid for his next race.
Behind the leaders, seven-times world champion Schumacher finished sixth after battling with Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who crashed.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi was the big crowd pleaser, finishing seventh after a feisty, attacking drive that saw him bang wheels and muscle past a series of rivals from 14th on the grid.
Germany's Nick Heidfeld made it a double points finish for the Swiss-based team with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello ninth for Williams and Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi collecting the final point for Toro Rosso.
Finland's Heikki Kovalainen gave Lotus Racing their best finish yet, and the best by a new team, in 12th place.
Image: Ferrari's Felipe Massa looks out from behind a fence as his car is recovered after colliding with Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi