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.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
November 7, 2014 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
Glitz... check, glamor... check. Teams going bust... er, check. F1 generates billion-dollar revenues, so why can't some of its teams stay afloat?
November 7, 2014 -- Updated 1814 GMT (0214 HKT)
With the sport currently facing up to a financial crisis, motorsport journalist Ed Foster explores the history of F1 sponsorship.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
He's paid millions to drive one of the world's fastest cars, and he's one of F1's most colorful characters, but Kimi Raikkonen loves normality.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
It took a little longer than expected but MotoGP's young star Marc Marquez wraps up his second world title in Japan.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Rising star Daniil Kvyat made history as the home hero at F1's first Russian Grand Prix, ahead of next season's move to Red Bull.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Take the fittest driver in Formula One and test him against two of the world's leading triathletes in a high-performance laboratory.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Mercedes has the fastest two cars in Formula One this season but there is just one problem -- there can only be one world champion.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.