Vettel is third German to win three races in a single season
Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix to roar back into the Formula One title reckoning on Sunday while Jenson Button had his overall advantage trimmed to 14 points with two races to go.
The Red Bull driver's third victory of the season left the 22-year-old German 16 points adrift of Brawn's Button, who crawled agonisingly closer to the crown with a hard-fought eighth place.
"Finally we made it, I was screaming on the radio ... it's good to be back on first position also on Sunday," said Vettel, the first German from outside the Schumacher family to win three races in a single season.
"It's a shame that there's only two races to go, but that's life," he added. "We're here to fight.
"Two more races like this and its looking better. Our task now is pretty straightforward, we have to push ourself to the maximum and try to win."
Button's closest rival, Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello, crossed the line in seventh on a sunny afternoon at Suzuka.
"I was struggling big time so it was a difficult afternoon driving the car and the only way I made one more point on Jenson here was the fact I qualified in front of him and that's what I have to be happy with," said Barrichello.
"I've got to win (the next race in Brazil), win big time."
Image: Sebastian Vettel is ecstatic after winning the Japanese GP on Sunday
Italian Jarno Trulli was second for Toyota in the team's home race, equalling their best result, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton hung on for third ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Germany's Nico Rosberg was fifth for Williams, subject to a stewards' investigation into a possible infringement while behind the safety car. If punished, the sanction could hand Brawn the constructors' championship.
BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was sixth.
"He (Rosberg) gained four seconds on myself (behind the safety car). We'll see what happens, I got one point, maybe two," said Button.
Rosberg pleaded his innocence.
"I didn't gain an advantage," he told the BBC. "We already analysed it. It should be fine. As far as I'm concerned, I definitely did what I should do."
Image: Nico Rosberg
Button misses drivers' title
As things stood at the chequered flag, Brawn were left a tantalising half-point away from becoming the first team to secure the constructors' title in their debut season.
They now have 155 points to Red Bull's 120.5, with a maximum 36 still to be won.
Button would have clinched the drivers' title had he scored five points more than Barrichello but that had looked highly unlikely since Saturday, when both were handed five-place grid penalties.
His chances receded even further when he ended the first lap in 11th place, but he passed BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica and was then gifted two more places when McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and Force India's Adrian Sutil collided just ahead of him.
Vettel had led comfortably from pole position but his advantage evaporated when the safety car was deployed late in the race, after Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari crashed, and stayed out until four laps from the finish.
The Spaniard was unhurt in the accident.
Image: Jenson Button