Sebastian Vettel appeared to be the most emotional he’s been since announcing his retirement, after revealing how “sad” he feels to have raced at the Japanese Grand Prix for the last time.
It’s safe to say the German went out in style, after recovering from a spin on the first lap to finish an astonishing sixth.
The race started in extremely wet conditions, which made visibility in the midfield impossible.
As a result, he collided with veteran Fernando Alonso at the opening corner, which saw the Aston Martin driver spin uncontrollably.
Vettel’s initial launch was actually very good but wonders if his collision with Alonso was due to aquaplaning.
“I got a very good start but then I collided with another car at the first corner,” he said after colliding with Fernando Alonso at Turn One.
“I really could not see anything – I am not sure, maybe I aquaplaned or I made a mistake – but I lost all the positions I had gained and ended up last.”
The race was red-flagged before the conclusion of the second lap, and when it restarted over an hour later, the 35-year-old was at the back of the field.
Bizarrely, drivers have preferred the Intermediate tyres rather than the full Wets during heavy rain, with the full Wets being both slower and considerably colder.
Due to being at the back, Vettel gambled at the Safety Car restart and dived into the pits, becoming the first driver onto the Intermediates.
It quickly proved to have been the right call, as the German rapidly rose through the field, whilst others eventually pitted for the green-walled tyres.
By the time everyone was on the Intermediates, Vettel was incredibly up to sixth, with a rapid Alonso closing him down.
“It was a great stop, then I pushed like crazy and managed to undercut most of the field,” Vettel added.
The duo had a titanic last lap battle where they rolled back the years, with the retiring driver ultimately beating Alonso in a drag race to the line, after pipping the Alpine driver by just 0.011 seconds.
It was a brilliant performance by Vettel, considering that only 28 Laps were completed.
The circuit is a real favourite for the driver, who claimed his second World Championship at Suzuka in 2011.
Vettel discussed after the race what a “wonderful weekend” it was, where he sent a message to all the “Suzuka fans” who gave him a beautiful reception.
“I feel sad to have driven my last race here, but it has been a wonderful weekend, and to all the fantastic Suzuka fans I can only say, ‘Thank you’,” concluded the clearly emotional four-time World Champion.