Jenson ButtonEnlarge Photo
In the end it was Button who would take home the win, followed by Alonso in second place and Vettel in third.
Rounding out the top five was Vettel’s Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber in fourth and Button’s own McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in fifth.
Vettel needed only a single point to win the Championship, but as he promised before the race, he was "going for glory"--and the start proved it.
His closing out of Jenson Button on the run down into the first corner was a statement of intent so clear it had McLaren asking the stewards if it was a fair defense move. It was later found to be fair.
Over the hard-fought 53 laps of the testing Suzuka Circuit there were fierce battles aplenty and none more so than the one at the front. The race pretty much ended up being a three-driver slug-out between Vettel, Button and Alonso. Button eventually took the lead on lap 20, but would have to fight hard to keep it, especially in the closing laps.
Hamilton lost ground that he never recovered after suffering a puncture on lap eight as well as a minor clash with Massa later in the race. Massa, meanwhile, finished seventh, just behind Mercedes GP driver and seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher who showed a slight return to form to take home sixth place.
Looking at the 2011 standings, Sebastian Vettel sits on 324 points, followed by Jenson Button on 210 points and Fernando Alonso on 202 points.
Of course, the Constructors’ Championship is still up for grabs, though Red Bull Racing looks set to take home that title as well with its tally of 518 points, followed by McLaren on 388 points and Ferrari on 292 points.
Teams now head to Yeongam in South Korea for the 2011 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix in just a week’s time.