McLaren's 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus and Germany's Nico Hulkenberg for Force India.
Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado scored his first points since he won the Spanish Grand Prix, ending a run of nine races without scoring for Williams.
Australian Mark Webber was ninth for Red Bull after starting on the front row following Red Bull's first one-two of the season in qualifying, and then having to fight back from last place after a collision with Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Lotus at the start.
Grosjean, banned for the Italian Grand Prix in September, was handed a stop-go penalty for the incident. Webber branded him a "first lap nutcase" and suggested it might be time for him to take another "holiday".
Image: Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan is congratulated by his team after his third place finish at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012