Sebastian Vettel put himself in pole position yet again Saturday as he closes in on his second Formula One world title at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver needs only a point from Sunday’s race to claim the championship and will start from the front of the grid after clinching the top spot on his final run in Saturday’s qualifying.
Vettel’s 1:30.466 lap of the Suzuka track put him in front of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who set the benchmark with his first qualifying run.
Jenson Button also went faster than his McLaren teammate on his final run but finished nine-thousandths of a second behind Vettel.
It was the fifth pole in a row for the German and his 12th of the campaign, putting him one pole away from equaling Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna and two from sharing Nigel Mansell’s F1 record of 14 poles in a season.
Behind the front row of Vettel and Button, Hamilton will start third alongside Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, with whom the British driver feuded two weeks ago in Singapore.
Massa’s teammate Fernando Alonso lines up fifth, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber sixth and Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher seventh. The Renaults of Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov begin eighth and ninth.
Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi delighted his home fans with the 10th fastest run in his Sauber.