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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Suzuka
Ferraris Sebastian Vettel produced a performance to take pole position.
It had been the first rod because the Canadian Grand Prix of Vettel in June and stopped a streak of nine races being out-qualified by Charles Leclerc.
The 21-year-old Monegasque, that has taken rod in the last four races, was next, 0.189 minutes behind.
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth, equally just over 0.2secs off the Ferraris.
Red Bulls Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon were fifth and sixth, setting the exact same lap time, 0.787secs off the pace, a hugely impressive performance in the Anglo-Thai in his first visit Suzuka.
But the storyline was Vettel, that has struggled below Leclercs struggle in the next half of the season but revived memories of some of his performances to get pole position in an illustrious career with two laps good enough.
Vettel revelled in his own execution following a session where drivers were faced with gusting winds, a hangover from Typhoon Hagibis, which compelled qualifying to be delayed until race morning.
Vettel said:Were very surprised. We didnt expect to have front row. It was incredible, the car being so mild and on brand new tyres and we had mind wind. I dont believe I touched the brakes (there) other than Turn Two.
Leclerc was threatening him on his final lap before he made some mistakes at the chicane and accelerating on to the last straight but admitted that Vettel was just too good for him.
Seb did an amazing lap, Leclerc said,and now he simply deserves to be on rod. I have been a bit fighting since the start of the weekend. But I have been satisfied with my lap aside from the last sector when I did some mistakes. But to be honest, pole was potential, Seb was just too quick.
Leclerc said that he was wary of the danger from the Mercedes cars at the race.
Mercedes are very quick in the race, he said,and it isnt going to be easy but well try to concentrate on our task and keep this one-two.
Mercedes had mastered Friday clinic but believed that Ferrari were holding something in reserve then, so it proved.
Bottas, who has looked quicker than Hamilton all weekend, also stated:We seemed quite robust but we always knew Ferrari might have something to turn up. Through the straights they are unbeatable. But we are quick through the corners.
The conditions led crashing out in precisely exactly the same area at the corner at the early part of non invasive, as Williams driver Robert Kubica and Haas Kevin Magnussen both lost controller.
Kubica understeered into the barriers, although he managed to get his car back into the pits, while the obstacles backwards hit and spun and ran wide.
Both teams face a race against time to find the cars ready in the short period before the race starts at 14:10 local time (06:10 BST).
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