Fernando Alonso, the last driver to win back-to-back drivers’ championships, has congratulated Sebastian Vettel on matching this achievement at Suzuka today. The Spaniard also had a strong race himself, finishing just over a second behind winner Jenson Button.
Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa had another incident with Lewis Hamilton, although this one was not as serious as the crash at the last race in Singapore. Nevertheless, Massa was still pretty cross.
“Congratulations to Sebastian! Winning two world titles at his age, in a season in which he has done it all – in qualifying, the races and every other way, so perfectly, is amazing and it is well deserved,” said Alonso. “For our part, we can do no more than try and do our utmost to try and beat him next year.
“Today, we did our best and we came close to winning the race. We know that in qualifying we are behind the Red Bulls and McLarens, but in the race, when there are variables like tyre degradation, then we can exploit some opportunities. Here, the others were very strong for the first five or six laps and then we closed up to them a lot.
“This podium is a great motivation for the final four races of the season. It was a fun race, in which the strategy was very important. Unlike recent races, today we had a pace that was good enough to fight for the win. We will try again in Korea, where we can go with our heads held high: we will try and win, or at least get on the podium again.”
Felipe Massa also congratulated Vettel on his achievement, but not after he had criticised Hamilton for his race conduct.
“Once again I finish a race with a very bitter taste in my mouth,” said the Brazilian. “Today, our pace was good enough to finish on the podium, as Fernando demonstrated, but instead I am here commenting on a seventh place. It's a real shame.
“The contact with Hamilton? My car was definitely damaged by it: when I looked at it after the race, I saw there was a bit of the front wing endplate missing and the floor was not on properly on the left hand side and I could feel it in the way my car was behaving. I think the footage speaks for itself: he was struggling with his tyres and I had almost come alongside him and for no reason, he moved over and hit me. I let you be the judgeâ€¦ It's pointless for me to say any more about it.
“However, I do want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel: he is a great guy and deserves this title and I am very happy for him.”
Stefano Domenicali again praised Alonso for his drive and said that the team were keen to ensure their double-world champion finishes second behind Vettel in the drivers’ standings this season.
“First of all on behalf of the Scuderia, I wish to congratulate Sebastian Vettel on clinching his second Drivers' title: he has had an incredible season and this fantastic result is well deserved!” exclaimed the Ferrari team principal. “As for us, I don't think it's out of place if, for the second time running, I use the adjective amazing, this time to describe Fernando Alonso's race today.
“Our driver was always on the attack and came very close to a win which would have been incredible, given our performance two weeks ago in Singapore. All these changes of fortune in terms of who is competitive, confirm once again how hard it is to understand as well as possible the real performance of the car-tyre packages at each track.
“Felipe was also having a very good race, at least until the contact with Hamilton: the damage his car suffered in this incident probably penalised him excessively in the second part of the race.
“There are still four races to go this season, in which we will do our utmost to achieve the objectives that are still within our reach: winning again, taking Fernando to second in the Drivers' classification and learning as much as possible from this car with a view to 2012.”