Busy Schumacher back in control

Just when you were tempted to think that Michael Schumacher's world domination had come off the rails a little, with three successive defeats since his last win in Hungary in August, back he bounced in the Japanese Grand Prix that nearly didn't happen.

Typhoon 22 might have veered away from the region at the last moment, but the postponement of qualifying until yesterday morning put everybody on the back foot. Ferrari did the best job of setting up their car, and the world champion said sayonara the moment the red lights went out at the start. Only brother Ralf kept him in sight. If Michael's race here last year was amateurish, this time his was a perfect performance.

"This was an historic day for Formula One, taking pole and the win on the same day," he said in the chirpy manner that was absent in Monza and Shanghai. "It was certainly exciting, but I think I prefer the old system! The fact that I did not do well in China certainly helped my qualifying in terms of when I made my pre-qualifying run. It was clear to us that we would have a strong race pace, but after the start I had Ralf in my mirrors for quite a while and the gap between us was not growing as quickly as I had expected. He was certainly hanging on."

Ralf finished second for BMW-Williams to score his personal best result of the season, but the reason why he was able to keep big brother honest became apparent when he made his first of three refuelling stops on the ninth lap, whereas Michael kept going to the 13th. The Ferrari had been carrying a heavier fuel load.

Nobody could touch the red car after that, and nor really could anyone else keep up with Ralf, but Jenson Button and Takuma Sato in their BAR Hondas had a pretty good stab at it. Button pulled off one of those beautiful no-compromise moves on his faster-qualifying team-mate as they sped into the first corner, but later conceded third place to him as he was also running with a heavier fuel load. In the end, however, Sato's three-stop strategy did not pan out as well as Button's two stops, and the man who was busy casting covetous eyes at Schumacher Jnr's fleet Williams went on to score his 10th podium finish of the season.

"It's a fantastic result here as we celebrate BAR's 100th race and the 40th year since Honda's F1 debut," Button said as his customary good grace masked any disappointment at not having a better chance of victory. He knows that his first win will come, but the circumstances will have to be special as long as there is a healthy Ferrari in the race.

"Taku was probably slowing me down at first because I was really struggling with rear grip in the first five or six laps. I had big oversteer on pretty much every corner. So he came past me through the quick left-hander, Dunlop, and there was no use trying to fight him because I knew we were on different strategies. The two-stop worked very well for me at the last race and I am used to driving the car when it is pretty heavy."

Sato finished a disappointed fourth in front of the thousands of Japanese fans who flocked to the circuit. There was good news and bad for them. The bad was that the traffic jams into and out of Suzuka made Silverstone look like a cakewalk; the good news was that being there live meant they did not have to sit through the appalling coverage by race sponsor Fuji TV, who focused on Sato too much and missed most of the major incidents.

The biggest of these came on lap 38 when Rubens Barrichello's recovery drive from 15th place on the grid went awry as he took himself and fifth-placed David Coulthard out of the race when they collided at the chicane. That left Coulthard's team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, to exploit a two-stop strategy and chase Fernando Alonso home, with Juan Pablo Montoya just holding off the Sauber Petronas of Giancarlo Fisichella for the final point. The Italian's ninth-placed team-mate, Felipe Massa, was one of the stars of the race, with 11 separate overtaking moves.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game