Vettel leads Red Bull sweep of front row at Japanese Grand Prix
October 6, 2012 -- Updated 0737 GMT (1537 HKT)
Sebastian Vettel is on pole position for the fourth straight year at Suzuka.
- Sebastian Vettel on pole position for Japan GP at Suzuka
- Vettel joined on front row by Red Bull teammate Mark Webber
- Title leader Fernando Alonso will go from sixth
- Mercedes bound Lewis Hamilton only ninth best
(CNN) -- Two time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed pole in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka for the fourth straight year Saturday ahead of Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
The German clocked the fastest time of one minute 30.839 seconds, which was 0.251 seconds faster than Webber.
McLaren's Jenson Button was third quickest, but will start from eighth after having a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
It has promoted home hope Kamui Kobayashi to third as the home driver produced a superb last qualifying lap in his Sauber to delight the crowd.
Kamui Kobayashi: Japan's fastest man
Formula One strives for green future
Singapore: The future of F1 finance?
France's Romain Grosjean for Lotus will go from fourth with the second Sauber of Mexican Sergio Perez in fifth.
Button's relegation has moved Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso up to sixth as he bids to protect his 29-point title lead over Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton, who announced his move to Mercedes this week, was a disappointing ninth fastest in the second McLaren in a further blow to his receding championship challenge.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, who is being replaced at Mercedes by Hamilton and will retire for the second time at the end of the season, was unable to make the top-10 shootout.
Schumacher, who crashed in practice Friday, was only 13th fastest and will start from 23rd after a 10-place grid penalty for an incident in the previous round in Sinqapore.
But Vettel, who stayed clear of a late qualifying crash by Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, which held up several drivers, including Alonso and Hamilton, was in imperious form as he stepped up his title bid.
"We had almost the perfect qualifying," he told the post-qualifying press conference.
"The car felt fantastic and I couldn't have asked for any more."
Vettel won in Singapore after race leader Hamilton retired and with six round remaining has become a real threat to Alonso.
Part of complete coverage on
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2255 GMT (0655 HKT)
Despite being a sport well into its seventh decade, only two women have ever driven in Formula 1 but Susie Wolff hopes to become the third.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Jann Mardenborough on the similarities and differences between driving a race on a video game and driving a real F1 car.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
How Russian president Vladimir Putin helped turn a muddy hole in the ground into a $400 million futuristic grand prix track in Sochi.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1217 GMT (2017 HKT)
CNN's Rosie Tomkins speaks to Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes on the team's driver line-up for 2014.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Popular Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi is back in Formula One with Caterham -- and fan power has helped him return to the grid.
January 17, 2014 -- Updated 2228 GMT (0628 HKT)
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas applies to enter a new team in the Formula One world championships.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
He is Formula One's undisputed No. 1, and next season Sebastian Vettel will have proof of that fact emblazoned on his Red Bull.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Germany has only produced two Formula One champions -- and they can thank one man for spotting their nascent talent.
CNN's Amanda Davies travels to a small German town to discover the real Sebastian Vettel, F1's all-conquering champion.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
It is 5 a.m. on Sunday morning in Austin, Texas and the grid girls are already up and getting ready for the race.
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.
Today's five most popular stories