11:28 GMT +3 hours23 November 2014
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Suzuka Crown Draws Vettel Closer to F1 Title

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(updated 18:28 28.10.2014)
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Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel put in a dominant drive to win the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday and strengthen his title challenge.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel put in a dominant drive to win the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday and strengthen his title challenge.

Red Bull's German driver led from the front to win ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari and local hero Kamui Kobayashi.

The retirement of championship leader Fernando Alonso on the first lap due to a puncture after a rear-end shove from Kimi Raikkonen helped Vettel close the gap to just four points, with five races remaining.

"When you're dreaming at night, you dream one day about racing a car like that," said a jubilant Vettel. "The balance was so good and that's why there was a gap behind," he added, in reference to his 20-second winning cushion.

It was Vettel's fourth GP with of the season after victories in Bahrain, Canada and at the European Grand Prix.

For Massa it was a first podium finish of a disappointing year. The achievement may have persuaded Ferrari bosses to stick with the Brazilian for next season.

Also in the championship hunt along with Alonso and Vettel are Raikkonen, who finished sixth to stay within 33 points of the leader, and Lewis Hamilton, whose fifth place kept him in contention a further five points back.

Russia's Vitaly Petrov finished a creditable 17th despite a drive-through penalty for ignoring a blue flag, with teammate Heikki Kovalainen going even better for 15th.

The F1 trail hits South Korea next week, before arriving in India, Abu Dhabi, the United States and finishing in Brazilian on November 25.

Results:

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

3. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)

4. Jenson Button (McLaren)

5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)

7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)

8. Pastor Maldonado (Williams)

9. Mark Webber (Red Bull)

10. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)

11. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)

12. Paul di Resta (Force India)

13. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)

14. Bruno Senna (Williams)

15. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)

16. Timo Glock (Marussia)

17. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)

18. Pedro de la Rosa (HRT)

19. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)

Charles Pic (Marussia) Retired, lap 37

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) Retired, lap 32

Sergio Perez (Sauber) Retired, lap 18

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Retired, lap 1

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Retired, lap 1