Race

15:02 Webber very slowly leading the field back on to the grid. All of the cars are now lined up and we have the lights: One, two, three, four, five ... GO!

15:00 We're away on the formation lap as the grid clears. Webber setting a leisurely pace and Hamilton very slow out of the hairpin as he made adjustments but is back with the Red Bulls now

14:59 Only Ricciardo in 16th and Pic in 20th starting on the hard tyre; everyone else on mediums. Funnily enough, Pic and Bianchi had 10-place grid penalties from Korea while Adrian Sutil got one for a gearbox change after FP3. The way the penalties are applied in order, Sutil dropped to the back of the grid but Pic starts where he qualified and Bianchi one place further up from his qualifying position!

14:58 Siddhesh emails in to say: "More excited about how the Fight for No. 2 in constructor goes between Ferrari and Merc than a championship that will be put out of mathematical contention sooner rather than later."

It's a good point. Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus are all likely to be closely matched today and if we're looking at the fight behind the Red Bulls I'm going to tip Grosjean to be best of the rest

14:56 The whole race could hinge on the start, with Webber traditionally poor off the line but saying his second practice launch today was good. Red Bull has said the pair are free to race but to remember that there are points to be scored for the team

14:55 Five minutes to go, time for the grid to start thinning out a touch. The big question: Can Webber beat Vettel in to Turn 1?

14:53 Just seen a shot of a start on Jean-Eric Vergne's helmet in tribute to Maria de Villota who tragically passed away on Friday. Most (if not all) drivers have one of her stars somewhere on their helmet this weekend and the drivers and team principals held a private minute's silence in memory of Maria about an hour and a half ago

14:51 Great to see Kamui Kobayashi at the circuit all week; his podium here and the scenes afterwards last year were brilliant

14:49 @ClaasenCalvin on Twitter says: "@ESPNF1 Totally amped for this race!!! Can't wait!!!" while @Nareshalive adds "The @MercedesAMGF1 really have a chance this time to pull down the red bulls. Come on @LewisHamilton GO GO!!!"

14:46 We're just under 15 minutes from the start of the race and we'd love to hear from you throughout the afternoon. Either email us using the link above or you can get in touch via Twitter @ESPNF1. We'll try to use as many questions and comments as possible

14:43 For Vettel to become world champion today he needs to win the race and have Alonso finish lower than eighth place. If Vettel doesn't win or Alonso finishes in the top eight then we roll on to India

14:41 Vettel tells Sky that there are no worries over his KERS after that change and says he isn't focusing on the title permutations. He could win it today...

14:37 The pit lane is open and cars are heading to the grid as I type. You'll have noticed the local time is coming up to 3pm, and that extra time has allowed Red Bull to change the whole KERS system on Vettel's car today. It's a big job but has been completed and he's on the grid. Fernando Alonso has also had some of his KERS system changed too

14:34 Yes, it's Mark Webber who beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position, with Vettel hampered by a KERS issue in Q3. In fact, the time Vettel will have lost led Webber to call it "quite a hollow pole" and he described Vettel's lap for P2 as "phenomenal". But it's Mark who's ahead on the grid...

14:30 Hello and welcome to ESPNF1's live coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix. Half an hour until lights out at Suzuka and it's a different pole-sitter than in recent races...

Lap 1

GROSJEAN LEADS! Bad start for Vettel, great start from the Lotus, Hamilton has a problem after a great start too. Puncture for Hamilton and he was hit by Vettel. Bianchi and van der Garde in the gravel.

Vettel radios in to ask for his front wing to be checked. It looks OK, but after his poor start he must have tagged Hamilton and given him the puncture. Pic takes his drive-through penalty.

Lap 2

We're under yellow flags after the first corner crash between van der Garde and Bianchi. Hamilton's made it back to the pits. Grosjean leads Webber and Vettel by less than a second

Lap 3

Yellow flags still at Turn 1, while Vettel seems to have dropped off the back of Webber a touch. Replays of the start show that Hamilton went for a gap between the two Red Bulls and just touched Vettel who had nowhere to go between Hamilton and Grosjean.

Lap 4

Grosjean leads by 0.8s after setting the fastest lap, Vettel is 1.4s back. The collision at the start between van der Garde and Bianchi will be investigated after the race after we see both of them chatting on the outside of the first corner. The yellow flags are still out at Turn 1

Lap 5

The track is clear again. Grosjean's leads is a second now. Vettel seems to be seeking clear air behind his team-mate.

Alonso made a good start up to P6 while Raikkonen went backwards and is 11th. Perez and Gutierrez made good ground.

Lap 6

Raikkonen attacks Button in to Turn 1 but can't really do much around the outside. Hamilton has aero issues and Vettel is struggling a bit as he runs wide at Turn 3 and does well to catch it after getting on the grass. Vettel is told a two second gap to Webber would be good

Lap 7

All happening at Turn 1. Alonso attacks Massa but doesn't get by, but Raikkonen dives up the inside of Button for P10 and Ricciardo passes Bottas there too.

Grosjean leads by 1.1s and Webber is told to drop back by 2s if he can't pass

Lap 8

I'm loving the battle between the two Ferraris that is shaping up: Massa is not going to just let Alonso by at this stage as they both chase Rosberg - who is already 4.9s behind Vettel. Massa gets a stern message about "Strategy A" from his race engineer Rob Smedley followed by "Now please"...

Lap 9

Hamilton has retired from the race as he brings his car back in to the pits. Such a shame as he had jumped Vettel off the line. Problem for Rosberg - very slow first sector - and the Ferraris are right behind him - he went off at Turn 1. Grosjean's lead is now 2.1s.

Stops for Button, Bottas and Sutil

Lap 10

Not a lot happening at the front as the gaps are managed but I think Grosjean will keep an eye on the gap in case it closes behind him - that could be a hint that Red Bull will pit.

Massa still ahead of Alonso, and Hulkenberg is right behind both

Lap 11

Grosjean's lead is now 2.5s while Vettel is 1.6s further back. Hulkenberg in for hard tyres from behind the two Ferraris. Can he get the undercut? Massa has dropped almost two seconds behind Rosberg again. Webber pits, releasing Vettel to push behind Grosjean

Lap 12

Not a hugely quick stop for Webber. Massa and Raikkonen were also in and Hulkenberg is ahead of Massa! I'd like to say I called that one... Is that Alonso in trouble too? Button sets the fastest lap on hard tyres while Vettel can't make any inroads in to Grosjean's lead... Grosjean pits but Vettel stays out

Lap 13

Grosjean stays ahead of Webber after a very good stop from Lotus. Rosberg was released in to the path of Perez in the pits and that looks like a certain penalty, no contact though. Hulkenberg with the fastest lap as Vettel continues to circulate. Alonso pits from second place

Lap 14

Alonso rejoins well behind Hulkenberg and Massa. Webber sets the fastest lap - a whole second quicker than Vettel who may be trying to two stop if he stays out - while Perez overtakes Button using DRS for P11. Now Vettel pits...

Lap 15

Made sense for Vettel as there was a big gap behind him. He'd had a big lock-up in to the chicane on his in-lap and was fighting the car on the way in to the pits - all a bit ragged. Grosjean back in the lead by 1.9s from Webber.

Rosberg gets a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release, releasing Hulkenberg back up to a net P4

Lap 16

Grosjean's lead is now 1.8s over Webber and Vettel is four seconds behind his team-mate. A quick first sector from Vettel though. Ricciardo is fourth for now having yet to stop - the only driver not to do so. Rosberg comes in for his drive-through.

Lap 17

Vettel with the fastest lap and he's now 3.3s behind Webber. Obviously as things stand Vettel won't win the title today - he has to win today and Alonso is already in the top 8. Vettel is told not to get much closer to Webber though to stay in clear air.

Lap 18

Hulkenberg has cruised up behind Ricciardo and is now getting held up by the Toro Rosso. Alonso has caught the back of the battle too behind Massa. As you were for the top three.

Lap 19

Ricciardo doing a good job of holding up the Hulkenberg, Massa, Alonso train and Gutierrez is catching them too in P8 ahead of Raikkonen and Perez. Sutil and Maldonado get very close together approaching Spoon but Maldonado holds on to P15

Lap 20

Hulkenberg can't pass Ricciardo but Alonso does get by Massa. Gutierrez right on the battle now, it's a complete train from Ricciardo back to Perez in P10. Hulkenberg dives up the inside in to 130R and is finally through.

Grosjean's lead up to 2.2s. Webber 3.1s ahead of Vettel.

Lap 21

Alonso passes Ricciardo too, just after Massa tried to dive up the inside of Alonso at the chicane. Gutierrez dives up the inside of Massa at the hairpin after an error from the Ferrari but Massa hangs it round the outside and holds on. Raikkonen then passes Gutierrez in to 130R

Lap 22

Ricciardo finally pits having started the race on hard tyres. Hulkenberg has Alonso close behind him but they've dropped the rest now.

Webber starts to catch Grosjean as Vettel closes in too.

Lap 23

Grosjean leads by two seconds, while Vettel is 2.6s further back. Hulkenberg in P4 is 22s behind Vettel. Rosberg passes Button in to 130R for 10th place

Lap 24

Webber's turned the wick up and sets the fastest lap. He's 1.4s behind Grosjean now and Vettel was 0.4s quicker than the Lotus. Button pits but a right rear problem means a very slow stop and he's out of the points

Lap 25

Grosjean has his mirrors full of a Red Bull now as Webber is in DRS range. Grosjean's pace has dropped off slightly so maybe he is trying to extend this middle stint to switch to a two-stopper? Webber pits looking to jump Grosjean, and Vettel with a big lock-up in to the chicane

Lap 26

Webber got all of that spot on - quick in-lap, quick stop and clear air - so Grosjean might be forced on to a two-stop now. If he were to pit immediately I think he'd lose out to Webber. Vettel with the fastest first sector of the race as he gets the hammer down - make that fastest lap

Lap 27

Vettel was a second quicker than Grosjean on that last lap; don't forget his tyres are two laps older. Vettel is told "We are not racing Mark, we are racing Grosjean" - I take that to mean Webber is on a three-stop and out of the picture, or has this race won already (but I can't see how)

Lap 28

Ricciardo round the outside of Sutil at 130R and he gets the move done but then runs wide off-track. Is that something the stewards will look at? Webber with the fastest lap of the race, while Ricciardo passes Maldonado around the outside of the first corner

Lap 29

Vettel is told to put pressure on Grosjean and he's been quick lately. Lotus blinks and Grosjean pits - rejoining behind Webber. Hulkenberg in too from what was P4 after a big lock-up

Lap 30

Webber is 13s behind Vettel and well clear of Grosjean, but I feel that Grosjean is going for a two-stop from here. All comes down to whether Vettel can pit and rejoin ahead

It was di Resta that Ricciardo put the move on at 130R and it is under investigation.

Lap 31

Alonso in to the pits as are Gutierrez and Perez. Where's Hulkenberg? Ahead of the Ferrari. Webber takes 0.8s out of Vettel on the last lap and another 0.4s on the start of this one. Replays of Perez's stop show another right rear issue at McLaren.

Ricciardo gets a drive-through for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. Consistent from the stewards.

Lap 32

Vettel leads by 11.8s from Webber while Grosjean is 8.6s behind Webber - he needs to keep both Red Bulls within one pit-stop range.

Raikkonen pits and rejoins ahead of Ricciardo in seventh place, but Ricciardo still has to take his penalty. Rosberg is right behind the Toro Rosso

Lap 33

Grosjean lapping slightly quicker than Vettel and Webber not getting near a pit-stop gap yet. Massa under investigation for speeding in the pit lane, that's usually a certain penalty. Ricciardo takes his drive through. Vettel with another lock-up in to the final chicane

Lap 34

Massa does get a drive through for speeding in the pit lane. Webber is a second per lap faster than Vettel, who then locks up at the hairpin. Webber will have medium tyres to run at the end of the race if he wishes. Hulkenberg is 4.1s ahead of Alonso and looking strong in the battle for P4.

Lap 35

The longer Vettel runs on these hards he might have mediums available at the end too, but neither his nor Webber's sets would be new. Vettel is setting a good pace but still losing time: Webber is now 8.4s behind him and Grosjean just matching pace to keep the gap below 20s.

Raikkonen with the fastest lap and he's just 1.7s behind Alonso - he's suddenly come alive. Massa took his drive through and is now 11th behind Gutierrez.

Lap 36

Vettel continues to lap but Webber is given a pep talk and responds with a quick lap. Rosberg is fairly quick in P7 and closing in on Hulkenberg and Alonso ahead, although Raikkonen is also in that mix and very fast. Vergne doing a good job up in P9

Lap 37

Webber cuts the gap to seven seconds. That was a very good lap for him last time round. Vettel looks in trouble with his tyres now and he's being reeled in. Vettel will need to pit... and he gets the call "Torque map 1 and box". Where will he come out with regards to Grosjean?

Lap 38

That's a two-stopper for Vettel as he puts on hard tyres. Grosjean is a few seconds ahead of Vettel but on tyres that are eight laps older. Vettel gets the message "That's Grosjean ahead of you - go and get him!"

Webber will need some special laps to get back in the mix now. Looks like a two-man race for the win and I'd make Vettel favourite from here.

Great move from Gutierrez on Vergne up the inside in to Turn 1 for P9

Lap 39

That's why I make Vettel favourite - two fastest sectors and he's just 2.1s behind Grosjean. He's going to cruise up behind the Lotus. Webber is still quicker than Grosjean but needs to stop again.

Raikkonen struggling to find a way past Alonso now for P5

Lap 40

Vettel is already right on the back of Grosjean but warned that he will come under pressure from Webber at the end of the race and to save some tyres for that stage too. Here comes Vettel...

Lap 41

A collective sigh as Vettel passes Grosjean but he's working for this win... Grosjean defended in to the chicane but Vettel was close enough and quick enough out of it to pass on the pit straight even though he forgot his DRS!

Webber is 15s up the road and continues to circulate

Lap 42

Vettel cuts the gap to 14.5s so Webber will have a lot of catching up to do if he wants to challenge for the win. Just to show Vettel's pace, he's already two seconds clear of Grosjean.

Webber pits. Which tyre will he go for?

Lap 43

Webber goes for the medium tyre with ten laps remaining. He's got to produce something special to win from here - those tyres will be quick but will they last? It's a gamble.

Button passes Sutil in a fight for 13th place while Perez is in for a third stop with a left rear puncture after contact with Rosberg. It's getting tasty in the fight for P4 - Alonso and Raikkonen close behind him.

Lap 44

Webber is quick but 4.2s behind Grosjean and 7.8s behind Vettel. Perez didn't see Rosberg on the outside under braking for the chicane and squeezed the Mercedes - which now has front wing damage

Lap 45

Webber sets the fastest lap and takes a second out of Vettel's lead. Grosjean is just 2.6s ahead of Webber too, but he's got to clear the Lotus and quickly if he's going to challenge his team-mate.

Lap 46

Webber right behind Grosjean now, 5.9s behind Vettel too. Alonso passes Hulkenberg for fourth place using DRS and Raikkonen is next to attack the Sauber.

I fear the race is over at the front now though... Grosjean doing a great job holding off Webber. Rosberg dives up the inside of Massa for P8 at the chicane

Lap 47

Webber has to clear Grosjean immediately but can't manage it using DRS and I fear that's the race. That cost Webber time to Vettel and it's all over at the front. The longer Grosjean can hold him off the quicker the tyres will go off and Grosjean might be able to retain P2.

Lap 48

Same again on the next lap - Grosjean defends - and there's no way Vettel is going to be caught now. He got the strategy right though. Rosberg is catching Gutierrez for P7 but that could be the first points for Gutierrez

Lap 49

Webber was only 0.4s behind Grosjean but didn't use DRS strangely. Grosjean is doing a great job to be fair, even if he's stopped Webber chasing down Vettel. There's a lot of traffic ahead for these guys.

Hulkenberg still holding off Raikkonen

Lap 50

Ricciardo runs wide and kicks up dust that Grosjean and Webber have to run through. There's a battle for P13 ahead, but Vettel is through it too. Rosberg attacks Gutierrez but the Sauber holds him off and Rosberg is told his fuel is critical

Lap 51

Raikkonen attacks Hulkenberg for P5 at the chicane but can't get by. Grosjean and Webber arrive side-by-side at Spoon but Grosjean stays ahead. Still lots of traffic ahead though...

Lap 52

Webber gets through. DRS open and lots of cars nearby but Webber gets up the inside in to Turn 1. That move has come five laps too late though for a challenge for victory.

Raikkonen under braking gets round the outside of Hulkenberg in to the chicane with a great move for fifth place.

Lap 53

We're on to the final lap and Vettel is nine seconds clear at the front. That doesn't really tell the story of this race though.

Webber has pulled 1.5s out over Grosjean so P2 looks safe. Alonso is clear of Raikkonen for P4.

Sebastian Vettel wins the Japanese Grand Prix. Webber comes home second, Grosjean third and Alonso finishes fourth to stop Vettel taking the title this weekend. Raikkonen is fifth and Hulkenberg sixth.

Gutierrez finishes a very impressive seventh place as he holds off Rosberg right to the end, and then Button passes Massa late on for P9. Replays show Maldonado barging through on team-mate Bottas at the chicane on the last lap, pushing Bottas off track. That was for 16th place, though.

It may be the same headline, but it was far from the usual Vettel victory. Grosjean did well and looked in the picture for the win until late in the race, while Webber would have been a real threat if he could have jumped Grosjean immediately. Vettel, however, was impressive to bide his time, pump in the laps when required and then jump from third to first - partly through strategy and partly on track.

Just to put Grosjean's drive in to perspective (aside from the pressure from Red Bull) he finished over 37 seconds ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen...

In fact, Grosjean isn't the only younger team-mate impressing - Gutierrez picks up his first six world championship points with a very impressive drive, albeit 20 seconds behind Hulkenberg who finished one place ahead.

Renault's Remi Taffin is on the podium taking the constructor's trophy but is forced to put on a Red Bull top rather than his Renault one. Three Renault engines on the podium but the top isn't allowed!

Vettel: "I'm blown away by the race today, I got a very poor start. First of all I would like to enjoy today ... It doesn't help when you win for the championship. We have a very good gap but still we keep pushing, we never give up. It's not over before it's over."

Webber: "Seb went a bit longer in the first stint then unloaded his race better than mine at the end. You always want a bit more"

Grosjean: "It feels much better than last year for sure! What a start, terrific, definitely better than last year... It's my engineers home race and I think he's happy"

And with those thoughts it's time to end. If you need the permutations, Vettel will win the title in India with a fifth place or better. If he fails to do that then Alonso has to outscore him by 15 points to keep it alive to Abu Dhabi. Stranger things have happened... Thanks for joining us, bye for now.