Sebastian Vettel made it five grand prix victories in a row by winning in Japan on Sunday but was made to wait for a fourth successive title.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fourth to keep the title race mathematically open although a fourth successive Formula One title is all but sealed for Vettel.
Vettel had needed a victory and for Alonso to finish outside the top eight to become the youngest driver to win four straight F1 titles.
The 26-year-old German took the chequered flag just over 7 seconds ahead of Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, with Romain Grosjean in a Lotus third.
Alonso was followed by Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus and Sauber’s Nico Huelkenberg over the line.