Massa seemed so out of practice at being on the podium that he knocked over his bottle of champagne, spilling some of it on the stage before he had a chance to shake the bottle as he collected his trophy.
The victory was Vettel's third from pole in Suzuka in the past four years and he also set the fastest lap after leading from start to finish in the Suzuka sunshine with the team warning him to be careful.
In truth, he had nothing to worry about with Massa far behind and Kobayashi fighting to keep McLaren's Jenson Button behind him right to the finish. Button, last year's winner, crossed the line 0.5 adrift of the Sauber.
Image: Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates on the podium after winning the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, left, of Brazil finished second and Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi, right, of Japan finished third.