Fernando Alonso made a late pit stop to fit a new set of intermediate tires and that gave him a clear advantage over his rivals, something that allowed him to recover the same positions he had lost when making that pit stop.
Sebastian Vettel was his next rival and, arriving at the last lap, the Asturian threw the car inside him at the entrance of the last chicane. As his Alpine bounced over the curb, Vettel held his ground on the outside and that gave him the lead for the second left-hand turn.
Afterwards, both put the throttle to the maximum to the finish line, side by side, with the German from Aston Martin winning the battle by just 0.011s, more or less a meter away.
Coincidentally, the two had been involved in an incident earlier in the race, with a touch between Alonso and Vettel causing the latter to spin.
With nothing to lose, having dropped to the back of the pack, Vettel took his chances after the red flag and was the first to change extreme wet tires for intermediates . A decision that ultimately paid off as it brought him back into the fight for points.
“Well, it was very, very close,” Vettel said of the fight with Alonso. ” It was a bit aggressive , I would say.”
“But yeah, it was also a bit of a confusing moment, because I lost communication with the radio and I looked at the pit board, but I think the race management changed their mind as to the length of the race, and I didn’t I knew it. But we got away with it.”
Regarding the first lap incident, the veteran German driver said: “We touched. I moved to the left because he didn’t go well and I did.”
“Then I struggled quite a bit with wheelspin and a bit of aquaplaning as well and lost the car, and then we touched and I lost control completely. But then we were able to make a great comeback,” added the four-time Formula World Champion. 1.
Vettel explained that the possibility of mounting intermediate tires as soon as the race resumed was something they had discussed before the restart itself.
“Yes, we talked about it before and obviously I made the decision judging the track conditions , but luckily it worked out really well.”
Having finished seventh at the Singapore GP the previous weekend, the German driver admitted he thoroughly enjoyed scoring another strong result at his last Japanese GP.
“Yeah, we got the car into a position that probably doesn’t belong there . We even split the Alpines, who are so much quicker than us, we managed to hang in there, so I really enjoyed the weekend. I love everything about this place.”
Asked if getting good results in his last few races was good so he could deflect any comments by saying he had relaxed, he said: “To be honest, in general, I don’t care. It only matters for me.”
“I mean, obviously I live off the results, but I have my life. It’s going to be a big change, but I’m happy to have had such a good racing career,” Vettel concluded.