SUZUKA, Japan - Sebastian Vettel invigorated his Formula One world championship hopes with a convincing win in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
Vettel started from the pole and led most of the 53-lap race at Suzuka Circuit. He edged his Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber by 0.9 seconds at the finish for his third win of the season and the eighth of his F1 career.
It's the second straight year the young German has won the Japanese GP. He dominated here throughout the weekend by leading the way in both practices and then claiming his eighth pole of the season hours before the start of the race.Qualifying was delayed one day due to torrential downpours at the 3.641- mile road course.
"It's an incredible day obviously with qualifying and the pole position this morning and then this afternoon we continued," Vettel said. "It was a good start for us, which was key from the clean side."
With the win, Vettel moved closer to Webber for the lead in the championship standings. Webber has accumulated 220 points so far, while Vettel and Fernando Alonso from Ferrari, each trail Webber by 14 points with three races to go.
"It was another good day for me," Webber said. "I'm very happy with how I drove this weekend, and congratulations to Sebastian for the victory. He did a good job."
It's the third time this season that Red Bull has finished 1-2. The team firmed up their grip on the constructors' title, as they hold a sizeable 45- point advantage over McLaren.
Alonso, who had started on the pole and won the last two races, finished third.
"Obviously, it was a tough race, and the start was not very good for me," Alonso said.
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Button led for several laps before he made his pit stop, which allowed Vettel to reclaim the top spot for good.
Button, the defending F1 champion, is now 31 points behind Webber.
Hamilton managed to complete the race after he lost third gear in his car. He wrecked in practice during the weekend, which required a gearbox change. Hamilton had failed to finish the last two grand prix.
"I am just so happy to finish the race; since it's my first finish in a long time," Hamilton told the BBC.
Hamilton is 28 points in back of the lead.
The race featured a multi-car crash on the opening lap when Vitaly Petrov bumped into Nico Hulkenberg and then spun around before hitting the barrier. Seconds later, Felipe Massa made contact with Vitantonio Liuzzi, which sent both drivers into the turn one barrier. The incident forced the deployment of the safety car for five laps.
During the full-course caution period, Robert Kubica, who was running second at the time, pulled off the track after his right-rear tire came off. The Renault driver passed Webber for second on the first lap.
Lucas di Grassi from Virgin Racing did not start after he lost control of his car and crashed hard into the wall during the grid formation 20 minutes prior to the start of the race.