Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix to roar back into the Formula One title reckoning while Jenson Button had his overall advantage cut to 14 points with two races remaining.
The Red Bull driver's third victory of the season left him 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.
Button's closest rival, Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello, crossed the line in seventh on a sunny afternoon at Suzuka.
Italian Jarno Trulli was second for Toyota, who had just one driver in their home race after Timo Glock crashed in qualifying, to equal that team's best result.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton hung on for third, with his car's KERS energy recovery system failing in the closing laps, ahead of Ferrari's Raikkonen.
Germany's Nico Rosberg was fifth for Williams, with stewards declining to take action against him for an alleged speeding infringement while behind the safety car, while BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was sixth.
Button respected the decision, even if he did not agree with it. “Always when you think people have done something wrong and they don't get penalised, you are disappointed,” he said. “But it's not going to change anything massively, I don't think. The fight goes on.”
Had Rosberg been punished, the sanction would have handed Brawn the constructors' championship at the home of their former owners Honda.
But Brawn were left half a 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.
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.