October 9th, 2011, 20:25 PM
Sebastian Vettel takes crown despite Jenson Button win in Japan
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel wrapped up the 2011 world title as McLaren's Jenson Button saw his hopes end despite winning the Japanese Grand Prix.
If he won, Button needed Vettel not to score points to keep the championship alive but the German finished third behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
At 24 years and 98 days, Vettel is the youngest double champion in history.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton survived a puncture and another clash with Ferrari's Felipe Massa to finish fifth.
After an enthralling race on Suzuka's figure-of-eight circuit, Vettel joined the list of champions, which includes Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Damon Hill, who have been crowned in Japan and becomes only the ninth driver to take back-to-back titles.
An emotional Vettel thanked his team afterwards, saying: "We took nothing for granted and we did it.
"I'm so thankful to everyone in the team, pushing hard to build those two cars. It's great to have achieved the goal we set ourselves this year already.
"This year we've always been this one step ahead. In a way the hardest thing is after winning last year to go out and do it again."
Button won an intense three-way fight for victory which ended with only two seconds separated the top three finishers and he was moved to take his first win in a country to which he feels close ties.
He has a Japanese girlfriend and has previously driven for Honda - and the race started after the country's national anthem was sung by a choir of schoolgirls from Fukushima, the town devasted in the 11 March tsunami which killed nearly 16,000 people.
"This circuit is very special to all of us so to get a victory here in front of this Japanese crowd means a lot," he said.
"This gives us a lot of motivation. To see three cars in a few seconds shows how competitive F1 is right now."
Vettel had wanted to wrap up the championship he has dominated from the first race in Australia with a 10th win of the season, but circumstances conspired against him.
The German found himself under investigation at the start of the race after he cut off Button's attempt to pass him off the line.
"He's got to get a penalty for that, hasn't he?" Button asked his team on the McLaren pit wall.
But the panel of stewards, which included 1980 world champion Alan Jones, said it was a fair move and took no further action.
"It was pretty brutal there's no doubt about it," BBC F1 co-commentator Martin Brundle said of the move. "Harsh but not worth a penalty."
Button was still angry about the incident after the race, and after congratulating Vettel, he made his feelings clear by asking the German: "Didn't you see me at the start?"
Vettel grinned and replied "you were behind", to which Button responded: "Come, on - halfway alongside. OK, that's how we're racing then."
Japanese Grand Prix result:
1. Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes
2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault
4. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault
5. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes
6. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP
7. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari
8. Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber
9. Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault
10. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault 324 pts
2. Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 210
3. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 202
4. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 194
5. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 178
6. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 90
7. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 63
8. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 60
9. Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 36
10. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 34
1. Red Bull-Renault 518 pts
2. McLaren-Mercedes 388
3. Ferrari 292
4. Mercedes GP 123
5. Renault 72