Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel claims fifth straight win in Japan

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Sebastian Vettel claimed his ninth win of the 2013 season at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, though the championship battle continues to India.

This was a much different win as Red Bull used clever strategy to overhaul team-mate Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean, who had led the race until the final round of pit-stops.

At the start both Red Bull's were slow away on the front row allowing Romain Grosjean to take the lead into the first corner, Lewis Hamilton also looked to capitalise but slight contact with Vettel's front wing on the run to the first corner resulted in a puncture, dropping the Briton to the back of the field before later retiring.

Further down Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collided in the first corner taking both cars out, while Charles Pic completed his drive-through penalty given after qualifying.

Unable to pass Grosjean the Red Bull's slipped back to save tyres in a bid to attack nearer the pit-stops as the two Ferrari's of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso battled for fifth and sixth.

The first stops began around lap 12 with Webber the first car to pit in a bid to close down Grosjean using the undercut, this was unsuccessful as the Frenchman emerged ahead after his stop a lap later.

Mercedes' poor day got worse as Nico Rosberg was given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release into the path of Sergio Perez arriving for his first stop.

Vettel waited a few laps later than those ahead for his first stop but to no real advantage.

Daniel Ricciardo was on a different strategy from those ahead, starting on the harder compound tyres from 16th, he was upto fourth as those ahead pitted, from there he did a great job of holding Nico Hulkenberg and the two Ferrari's behind.

Alonso used this to pass Massa on the main straight with DRS while Hulkeberg finally passed the Toro Rosso at 130R.

Esteban Gutierrez, Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez also joined the battle and as the Mexican looked to pass Massa ahead he ended up losing out to Raikkonen again at 130R.

Ahead Webber began closing in Grosjean catching by half a second per lap before pitting for the second time as he converted to a three-stop strategy, that allowed Vettel to attack Grosjean before the Lotus man also made his second stop.

Webber's pace after the stops was enough as the Australian moved ahead of Grosjean into the lead.

From there an interesting strategical race developed with Webber making an extra stop needing to build a 25 second lead to stay ahead of Grosjean who had completed his two stops.

Vettel stayed out a lot longer than Webber and Grosjean in a bid to have much faster pace towards the end of the race.

A good battle behind the leading three with Hulkenberg ahead of Alonso and Raikkonen, Ricciardo's strategy was ruined after he was given a drive-through penalty for going off track and gaining an advantage while Massa also slipped back getting a drive-through for speeding in the pit-lane.

After his stop Vettel was much quicker than Grosjean and passed the Lotus with ease using DRS, Webber made his final stop a few laps later and the question was could he close the gap to Grosjean and Vettel ahead?

Alonso was able to move ahead of Hulkenberg for fourth ensuring the championship battle continues to India while the German can be very pleased with fifth. Kimi Raikkonen produced some good overtakes to take 6th while Esteban Gutierrez scored his first F1 points in 7th.

Rosberg and Massa recovered from their drive-through penalties to claim 8th and 9th respectively, Jenson Button completing the points finishers in 10th.

After his final stop Webber very quickly closed on Grosjean ahead but was unable to get past the Lotus until the penultimate lap ensuring a Red Bull 1-2 but also ensuring Vettel's fifth straight win.

Vettel's Suzuka success increases his championship lead to 92 points meaning he needs just eight points more than Alonso in India to finally claim that fourth championship.

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