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Summary

  1. Rosberg on pole, Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 3rd
  2. Vettel replaces Alonso at Ferrari, Alonso expected at McLaren
  3. Hamilton crashes in final practice
  4. Massa 4th, Alonso 5th, Ricciardo 6th
  5. Magnussen 7th, Button 8th, Vettel 9th, Raikkonen 10th
  6. Hamilton top in Q1, Rosberg top in Q2
  7. Saubers, Force Indias, Toro Rossos out in Q2
  8. Lotuses, Marussias, Caterhams out in Q1
  9. Typhoon threatens Sunday's race
  10. Watch qualifying and practice three again via Live Coverage tab

Live Reporting

By Lawrence Barretto

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Post update

    Tomorrow's plan of action is as follows. The live text will kick off at 05:30 BST, with BBC One joining the party at 06:00. We then sit and wait for the rain to come before the lights go out at 07:00.

    It was mighty close between the Mercedes drivers at Suzuka, but it was Nico Rosberg who came out on top as Lewis Hamilton paid for his mistake in final practice.

    So all that's left to say is it's a very good morning from him.

    Nico Rosberg

    And it's a very good morning from me. Until tomorrow, folks. Until tomorrow.

  2. Post update

    Here's Andrew Benson's qualifying report. Watch out for video highlights of that session on the F1 pages later today. You can also watch a re-run on BBC One at 13:00 BST.

  3. Get involved #bbcf1

    Janine Pingree: Well done to Valtteri Bottas on another great quali performance! Great to see another Finn fighting at the top.

  4. Post update

    "Mercedes looked really quick yesterday and this morning so it was nice to get a bit closer," says Williams' Valtteri Bottas, who qualified third.

    "They will be quick tomorrow but as a team we have to be happy with third and fourth. We might struggle a little more in the wet but there seems to be a margin behind us so hopefully we can still fight for a podium."

  5. Post update

    Nico Rosberg

    Nico Rosberg now has 12 career poles, putting him level with Gerhard Berger and our very own David Coulthard.

  6. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

    Lewis Hamilton's clearly not happy, the Briton choosing to give very short answers during interviews. "It was not the best of sessions," he tells Lee McKenzie. "I think it was decent recovery considering the crash.

    "I just overcooked it but the team did a great job to put the car back together. I feel good, I just wasn't quick enough today. I'm still second. We've seen races where we've come from further back."

  7. Post update

    "Today was surprise - the announcement of Vettel leaving Red Bull," says Fernando Alonso. "Everyone was waiting for an announcement on my side, but the situation on my side is that the priority is to help Ferrari this weekend.

    "Let's say I have had my mind set for two or three months, everything is moving in the right direction but I am still not 100% decided. I can go more or less where I want to go in the time I want to go and I will use my time in the best way.

    On possibility of Vettel being his team-mate at Ferrari: "Anything is a possibility. I don't know if he is going to Ferrari first of all. My first priority is to help my team in these races, then my future and Sebastian is very low priority at the moment.

    "My plan is going well, everything is moving in the right direction, hopefully soon [something will be announced]."

  8. Post update

    Fernando Alonso scratches his beard throughout his interview with Lee McKenzie and unsurprisingly fails to give any definitive answers about his future.

  9. Post update

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the split with Sebastian Vettel is "100% amicable" and adds: "I think he's ready for a new challenge. He's at a stage of his career where he's ready for a new challenge. I think that was at the bottom of his decision."

    Daniel Ricciardo has comfortably outperformed Vettel this year, having been promoted from Toro Rosso. "Daniel has had an amazing year, that's nine times to six that he has outqualifed Seb," says Horner. "Seb has had quite a few issues this year but take nothing away from Daniel.

    "We thought Daniel was a risk, as we think Kvyat is a risk, but he has delivered. I don't think any of us, even Daniel, thought he would be third in the drivers' championship having won three grands prix."

  10. Post update

    Sebastian Vettel

    "I was not entirely happy today," adds Vettel. "We lacked some running and didn't seem to be able to get what we expected in the corners that I usually love. There is still a chance because tomorrow I think there's rain."

    On leaving Red Bull, Vettel says: "It is a tough step after such a long time together with Red Bull. After so many fantastic years, I did and still am enjoying my time, but at some stage in life you want to do something else, something new. It is not the first time I have been approached but it felt like the right time.

    "I'm not leaving because I don't like the team or individuals, I'm not running away from anything. The voice inside me, the hunger to do something new was bigger. It was not the easiest decision but you have to listen to your heart."

  11. Post update

    Speaking for the first time since news broke that he is leaving Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel doesn't confirm his Ferrari move: "I don't have anything I can confirm now. For now, I can't say much. It shouldn't be too long."

  12. Post update

    "Nico was extremely quick and I did the best I could," says Lewis Hamilton, who qualified second. "The guys did a great job to rebuild the car (after his crash in final practice), so big thanks to them.

    "I wasn't really feeling it today, don't know why. I am looking forward to tomorrow and all the tricky weather that will come.

    On tyre vibrations during qualifying: "I had that all throughout the run, it may have been a tyre imbalance, but it did not get in the way of the result."

  13. Post update

    When asked about the wet weather forecast for tomorrow, Rosberg adds: "We are as prepared as we can be, we are expecting it to be wet. Our last experience in the wet was at Spa where the car was very quick. So I'm very optimistic, even if it rains. It could be even better."

  14. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas

    "I'm not thinking about Singapore," says Nico Rosberg. "We're here at Suzuka and I'm trying to win. It was great today, but that's only one step on the way. It was a real pleasure because the car is so amazing to drive. It was really cool."

  15. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    Luke Spurdle: McLaren F1 are ok placed considering anything could and will happen at the Japanese GP with the weather.

    Amy Brown: What was going on, Lewis? :-(

    Rian Hoskins: Vettel's performance was disappointing. Usually excels at Suzuka. Maybe 2015 is playing on his mind and is now his main focus.

  16. Post update

    Mercedes: Front row lock out, F1 silly season in full swing, typhoon on the way... again, someone tell us this sport is boring!

  17. Post update

    "They are competing on a a very high level, they are trying to extract the maximum from the car," says Mercedes co-team boss Toto Wolff.

    When asked if Lewis Hamilton's final practice crash compromised his qualifying, Wolff said: "For sure it was compromised. It was his sector, but then he shunted the car. That was sitting at the back of his mind."

  18. Post update

    Nico Rosberg finished six tenths clear of the closest non-Mercedes car Valtteri Bottas of Williams. That's his eighth pole position of the season.

  19. Japanese GP qualifying result

    1) Nico Rosberg 2) Lewis Hamilton 3) Valtteri Bottas 4) Felipe Massa 5) Fernando Alonso 6) Daniel Ricciardo 7) Kevin Magnussen 8) Jenson Button 9) Sebastian Vettel 10) Kimi Raikkonen

    11) Jean-Eric Vergne 12) Sergio Perez 13) Daniil Kvyat 14) Nico Hulkenberg 15) Adrian Sutil 16) Esteban Gutierrez

    17) Pastor Maldonado 18) Romain Grosjean 19) Marcus Ericsson 20) Jules Bianchi 21) Kamui Kobayashi 22) Max Chilton

  20. Post update

    "Thank you guys, thank you very much," says Nico "Mr Consistent" Rosberg on team radio.

    Lewis Hamilton's wait for a pole at Suzuka goes one. However, second on the grid will be his best ever starting slot at this circuit.

  21. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton crossed the line 0.197 seconds adrift of Nico Rosberg. Replays show that Hamilton locked up heavily at the hairpin.

  22. Pole position

    Nico Rosberg

    Nico Rosberg takes pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

  23. Chequered flag

    The chequered flag is out, but both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are flying!

  24. Post update

    All 10 cars are out on track. Kimi Raikkonen used a set of options earlier in the session, so he's just doing the one run late in the closing stages.

  25. Post update

    japanese gp

    It's time to head back to the garage for a fresh set of boots ready for one final push for pole. Five minutes to go.

    1) Ros 2) Ham 3) Bot 4) Mas 5) Alo 6) Mag 7) Ric 8) But 9) Vet 10) Rai

  26. Post update

    Mercedes

    Mercedes: "Two legends of the sport watching closely!"

  27. Post update

    It's a disappointing lap from Lewis Hamilton, who crosses the line three tenths adrift of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. Valtteri Bottas is third, with Felipe Massa fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth.

  28. Post update

    Nico Rosberg goes fastest with a 1:32.629, that's three tenths quicker than he's been today. What can his Mercedes team-mate do?

  29. Post update

    There's a small lock-up for Valtteri Bottas at the hairpin, but it's still a good effort, the Finn clocking a 1:33.329, which is a tenth faster than he managed in Q2.

  30. Final qualifying starts

    Twelve minutes, 10 drivers and one pole position. Let's get down to business.

  31. Post update

    japanese gp

    Valtteri Bottas heads down to the end of the pit-lane. Crikey, he's keen.

  32. In

    1) Nico Rosberg 2) Lewis Hamilton 3) Valtteri Bottas 4) Felipe Massa 5) Fernando Alonso 6) Kevin Magnussen 7) Daniel Ricciardo 8) Jenson Button 9) Kimi Raikkonen 10) Sebastian Vettel

  33. Out

    11) Jean-Eric Vergne 12) Sergio Perez 13) Daniil Kvyat 14) Nico Hulkenberg 15) Adrian Sutil 16) Esteban Gutierrez

  34. Post update

    So it's 1-1 in the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in this qualifying session. Who will win the deciding rubber in Q3? They were separated by just 0.032 seconds in Q2 and 0.060 secs in Q1.

  35. Second qualifying ends

    rosberg

    Nico Rosberg finishes fastest in the second part of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

  36. Chequered flag

    Out comes the chequered flag as Sebastian Vettel crosses the line to go seventh fastest. He's bumped down a place as his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo goes sixth quickest.

  37. Post update

    Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil are currently in the drop zone. Less than a minute to go.

  38. Post update

    Everyone has headed back out on track apart from the two Mercedes, who have a comfortable eight tenths of a second lead over the field.

  39. Post update

    There's a lull in the action as all 16 drivers head back to the pits before one final run.

  40. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    CK Chandu: Hope Jenson Button stays in for the shoot-out!

    Eduard Gascon: Cup of tea, #BBCF1 and ready to see Hamilton get pole as Vettel announces he's leaving for Ferrari.

  41. Post update

    Red Bull are in a spot of bother here, with Sebastian Vettel 11th and Daniel Ricciardo 12th. Only the top 10 progress.

    With seven minutes remaining, here's the top 10: 1) Ros 2) Ham 3) Bot 4) Alo 5) Mas 6) Mag 7) Rai 8) But 9) Per 10) Kvy

  42. Post update

    Replays show that Lewis Hamilton had a small lock up at the hairpin on his first flying lap. The Mercedes driver then reports: "These tyres started with a small vibration."

  43. Post update

    Nico Rosberg cruises to the top of the timesheets with a 1:32.950, 0.032 seconds quicker than Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

  44. Second qualifying starts

    Reset the times, it's time for the second part of qualifying.

  45. Post update

    Romain Grosjean and David Coulthard

    Here's something I bet you thought you'd never see. BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard attacking Romain Grosjean with a banana. Watch it here.

  46. Post update

    Romain Grosjean led the Japanese Grand Prix last year. Twelve months later, he's complaining about several aspects of his Lotus as he gets knocked out in the first part of qualifying. Misery for Lotus as Pastor Maldonado also takes an early bath but a good performance from Sauber who get both drivers through.

  47. In

    1) Lewis Hamilton 2) Nico Rosberg 3) Valtteri Bottas 4) Felipe Massa 5) Fernando Alonso 6) Kevin Magnussen 7) Kimi Raikkonen 8) Nico Hulkenberg

    9) Jenson Button 10) Jean-Eric Vergne 11) Daniil Kvyat 12) Esteban Gutierrez 13) Sergio Perez 14) Sebastian Vettel 15) Daniel Ricciardo 16) Adrian Sutil

  48. Out

    17) Pastor Maldonado 18) Romain Grosjean 19) Marcus Ericsson 20) Jules Bianchi 21) Kamui Kobayashi 22) Max Chilton

  49. First qualifying ends

    Lewis Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton finishes fastest in the first part of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

  50. Post update

    The top six - Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas, Massa, Alonso and Magnussen - have done their quickest lap on the hard tyre and are all but through to Q2.

  51. Post update

    Fernando Alonso of Ferrari pops in fifth, with McLaren's Kevin Magnussen sixth and Jenson Button seventh.

  52. Post update

    Multiscreen

    If you hit the red button you'll be able to watch a new feature called multiscreen. It looks something like this.

  53. Post update

    Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Marcus Ericsson, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Kamui Kobayashi are currently in the drop zone.

  54. Post update

    It looks like Mercedes and Williams believe their drivers have done enough to get through to Q2 as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are sat in the garage with eight minutes remaining.

  55. Post update

    Everyone is out on track apart from the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson.

    The top 10 as it stands: 1) Ham 2) Ros 3) Bot 4) Mas 5) Ver 6) Rai 7) Hul 8) Kvy 9) Gut 10) Sut

  56. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton is the early pace-setter, the 2008 world champion clocking a 1:33.611, which is 0.060 seconds quicker than his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. Good effort from the Briton, who crashed this morning.

  57. Post update

    Mercedes: Incredible effort from the boys in the garage over lunch there! Both cars out for initial runs now.

  58. Post update

    japanese gp

    No expense spared here as a fan creates a Kamui Kobayashi-inspired cardboard shield to stop the sun reflecting off his tablet.

  59. Post update

    Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi is the first man out, the Japanese driver waving to fans as he negotiates the first corner.

  60. First qualifying starts

    Here we go, then. Let's get this qualifying session under way.

  61. Post update

    This is your five-minute warning. Qualifying will be split into three sections, with the first lasting 18 minutes and seeing the six slowest drivers eliminated before the times are reset.

  62. Post update

    Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, headphones one, leaves the Red Bull hospitality unit and heads over to the garage.

  63. Post update

    japanese gp

    Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen says his best mate in Formula 1 is Sebastian Vettel, who will be his team-mate at Ferrari next year. In an entertaining quick-fire Q&A, the Finn reveals he can't dance and his signature dish is meat loaf.

  64. Post update

    Japanese Grand Prix

    It wouldn't be the Japanese Grand Prix without the fans and their hats with cars stuck on top. Kamui Kobayashi has been to Suzuka twice and both times he has scored points. A repeat performance this year, though, is unlikely.

  65. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    Dan Burdett: Only other possibility is that Alonso doesn't race at all next year. He wants a 3rd world title, but is McLaren the place to do it?

    Kishere Films: F1 is my life - I've travelled to four F1's this year! If Jenson Button leaves McLaren I will literally lose faith in the sport!!!

    Edward Williamson: McLaren currently have the dominant engine in F1 in their car and are nowhere. The engine isn't the problem, it's the car.

  66. Post update

    Jennie Gow

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter

    Lewis Hamilton

    "Looks like all will be well for Lewis Hamilton in quali."

  67. Post update

    Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has had a new power unit installed since final practice, reports BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Tom Clarkson. The team needed just two hours and 10 minutes. Remarkable.

  68. Post update

    Ferrari's Fernando Alonso: Times will be again very close between 3rd and 10th. Need a good lap...;)

  69. Post update

    Daniel Ricciardo smiling.

    Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo (pictured) are the only drivers to have made the Q3 top 10 shoot-out at all 14 race weekends this season.

  70. Post update

    Mercedes

    Mercedes: Some serious work going on behind here! Boys working very hard to get the cars ready.

  71. Post update

    Caterham team boss Manfredi Ravetto tells BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Tom Clarkson that it is "more than likely" they will move factory. He adds that it was a "mistake" not to sever links with former owners.

  72. Post update

    Max Verstappen

    Max Verstappen was the talk of the paddock on Friday after his impressive debut for Toro Rosso in first practice at Suzuka. The 17-year-old finished 12th fastest, just four tenths of a second behind Daniil Kvyat, who has close to a full season of experience.

    "I can't complain really, I enjoyed it a lot and that was the main thing - just to get experience and make a lot of laps," he said.

    "I think in general it was more about learning the car, there is quite some difference compared to the 2012 car so I just build it up lap-by-lap and by the end you get used to it. It is always good to drive an F1 car.

    "I just did what I had to do. I was not even close to the limit. I was just driving safely without doing any crazy stuff."

  73. Post update

    Alonso at the 2010 Singapore GP

    It feels like a long time since a Ferrari was on pole position in dry conditions - and that's because it is. It has now been more than four years, with the last one coming at the 2010 Singapore GP when Fernando Alonso stuck the car on P1.

    Alonso has not qualified in the top-three this year, despite finishing FP2 in the top-three on eight occasions in 2014 (and never being lower than second in any practice session in Singapore).

  74. Post update

    This is your 30-minute warning until the start of qualifying.

  75. Post update

    Cars on the starting grid for the Singapore grand prix 2014

    Qualifying in Singapore was incredibly close with the first nine drivers in Q3 being separated by just 0.569 seconds. That gap was smaller than the gap that separated Mercedes from all of the other drivers in qualifying in both Belgium and Italy.

    Four teams were also within 0.54% of Mercedes' pole time in Marina Bay - which again, is a smaller gap than separated the championship leaders from all other teams' best laps at eight grands prix weekends in 2014.

    Unfortunately for Mercedes' rivals, the Brackley-based squad are around a second faster than anyone else.

  76. Post update

    japanese gp

    Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who is without a seat for next year, believes that what former team-mate at Toro Rosso Daniel Ricciardo is doing now at Red Bull makes him look good.

  77. Post update

    NSX

    Red Bull Racing Spy on Twitter: "Lady in a wedding dress lapping Suzuka standing up in an NSX. 2nd weirdest thing Spy's seen this morning."

  78. Post update

    Ferrari-bound four-time reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has started all five Japanese Grands Prix in has contested from the front row.

    He lined up on P2 last year following four successive years on pole.

    Continuing that record would be a fine achievement considering Mercedes pace advantage over his Red Bull team but stranger things have happened this year.

  79. Post update

    japanese gp

    When Eddie Jordan asks about Lewis Hamilton future at Mercedes, co-team boss Toto Wolff jokes: "If you want to leave your wife, you need to find a better one.

    "We're very happy with Lewis, I think he is happy with us. We have a good spirit in this team so at the moment we don't see why we would want to change the situation and not continue with Lewis."

  80. Post update

    "If you go fast, you hit the barriers sometimes," says Mercedes co-team boss Toto Wolff on Lewis Hamilton's crash. It looks good that we will be able to put the car together, but you never know.

    "If everything is being put together like it was before, Lewis performance will be as good before. He was clearly the quickest. Of course it's far from being perfect, but I think he has a very heavy right foot!"

  81. Post update

    Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has never started on the front row at Suzuka. His best starting slot to date is P3 which he's achieved 3 times: 2009, 2011 and 2013.

  82. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "The Grand Prix Drivers' Association works quietly behind the scenes to represent the drivers' interests in matters such as safety and it has appointed a new chairman in Alexander Wurz. The Austrian former Benetton, McLaren and Williams driver, who also works as an adviser to Williams as well as continuing his career at the highest level in sportscars, is hugely popular and respected within the paddock as a likeable and intelligent man.

    "Sebastian Vettel, one of two GPDA directors along with Jenson Button said: 'Alex will be a great GPDA chairman. He is one of the most experienced drivers I know, full of positive new ideas.' Wurz said he wanted to reach out to fans, co-operate with the rule makers as they seek to make F1 more exciting, support the quest for increased safety, encourage those developments to reach the grass roots of the sport and promote safety and sustainability in F1 as a way to boost safety and cleanliness in road transport."

  83. Post update

    Daniil Kvyat

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggests that Daniil Kvyat, who joins the reigning champions next season, will get a chance in the car at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi ahead.

  84. Post update

    The big news of the morning, of course, is that Fernando Alonso is to leave Ferrari at the end of the season, with Sebastian Vettel quitting Red Bull to replace the Spaniard.

    Alonso is expected to sign for McLaren while Daniil Kvyat gets the nod as Vettel's replacement at Red Bull.

  85. Post update

    Nico Rosberg leads the race for the pole position trophy with seven P1 grid slots to his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton's six. Felipe Massa is the only other driver to start on pole, when he led the way in Austria.

  86. Post update

    Drivers' championship

    Lewis Hamilton has overturned a 29-point deficit to lead Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by three points with Daniel Ricciardo 57 further back. Check out the full standings here with five races - including this one - remaining.

  87. Post update

    Nico Rosberg finished fastest in final practice this morning, with Lewis Hamilton second, Fernando Alonso third and Felipe Massa fourth. Catch up on that session here.

  88. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton

    This was the moment the momentum swung back to Nico Rosberg as Lewis Hamilton hit the barriers on his qualifying-simulation run in final practice earlier this morning.

  89. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton

    Morning and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Whether you're just strolling in from a night on the titles or struggling to keep your eyes open after waking up early, I'd like to thank you for your company.

    We've had a thrilling morning already, with more excitement to come, so let's get straight to it.

  90. Go! Go! Go!

    Sebastian Vettel in red, Fernando Alonso is silver and Daniil Kvyat in blue. It's all change for Formula 1 2015 with Jenson Button facing the prospect of collecting his P45.

  91. Post update

    You have 35 minutes until the qualifying build-up show starts on BBC One, which is coincidentally when I'll be back to revive this live text.

    It's been a crazy morning - can it get any crazier? I can't wait to find out. See you shortly.

  92. Post update

    I've just had a glimpse of Eddie Jordan's shirt. It's one of my favourites, a blue floral number.

  93. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Lewis Hamilton has given himself an uphill struggle in this crucial qualifying session in Suzuka with his crash in final practice. Assuming Mercedes can repair his car in time, he goes in blind, with no sense of how the car was behaving in qualifying trim.

    "It's a handicap, but not an insurmountable one. Suzuka has not been a happy hunting ground for Hamilton, but he was in a similar situation in there in 2010, when a crash at Degner in first practice meant he missed all of Friday, and Saturday was a wash-out.

    "But when qualifying was finally run on Sunday morning, he produced what I believe was one of his greatest ever laps to go third fastest behind the Red Bulls. He had to start eighth because of a gearbox change."

  94. Post update

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow says Sunday's race will start at the scheduled time of 15:00 local time, 07:00 BST. There will be no change despite forecast suggesting heavy rain is expected.

  95. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    Janine Pingree: Oh Lewis! That's not gonna help your weekend. Suzuka is biting a lot of drivers this year.

    I Am A PowerRanger: Lewis Hamilton in the wall with only a few hours until qualifying. Not ideal.

    James Goodall: If Alonso and Vettel in same team would make rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg look like just a minor annoyance.

  96. Round-up

    So Nico Rosberg finishes just shy of one second faster than anyone else to set himself up perfectly for qualifying.

    Esteban Gutierrez and Pastor Maldonado had off-track excursions but survived to fight another day. Lewis Hamilton was less fortunate, hitting the barriers when doing his qualifying-simulation run.

    Fernando Alonso and the two Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas present the closest challenge while Sebastian Vettel lost a bunch of time with an engine issue.

    Kimi Raikkonen didn't have much luck either, the Finn managing just five laps with his Ferrari spending most of the session up on stands.

  97. Final practice results

    1) Nico Rosberg 2) Lewis Hamilton 3) Fernando Alonso 4) Felipe Massa 5) Valtteri Bottas 6) Daniel Ricciardo 7) Kevin Magnussen 8) Jean-Eric Vergne 9) Daniil Kvyat 10) Jenson Button 11) Nico Hulkenberg

    12) Kimi Raikkonen 13) Sergio Perez 14) Esteban Gutierrez 15) Sebastian Vettel 16) Romain Grosjean 17) Pastor Maldonado 18) Adrian Sutil 19) Marcus Ericsson 20 Max Chilton 21) Jules Bianchi 22) Kamui Kobayashi

  98. Chequered flag

    Nico Rosberg

    Nico Rosberg finishes fastest in final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashes at Turn One.

  99. Post update

    No one can get close to Nico Rosberg nor Lewis Hamilton, even though the Briton isn't going to complete a medium tyre run.

  100. Post update

    Lotus: Rally set-up being tested right there by Pastor. We like to make sure everything is tested.

  101. Post update

    Pastor Maldonado's car goes off the track during practice

    Pastor Maldonado is in the gravel now, but the Lotus driver manages to keep it out of the barriers.

  102. Post update

    Allan McNish

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst

    "It's all about, I think, who makes the least mistakes will win the championship."

  103. Post update

    Mercedes: That wasn't in the plan! We have #LH44 in the barrier. Busy lunchtime ahead here.

  104. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    Zorro: Is it unlucky for Hulkenberg? A seat at red bull opens and he doesn't get it?

    The Pob: IF #Ferrari get it right eventually, Vettel is young enough to have a great run of championships just as Schumacher did.

    Janine Pingree: I think Kevin has great potential & don't want to lose him either! Can we run 3 cars next year Bernie?! #McLaren

  105. Post update

    It was all going so well for Lewis Hamilton of late, but this will certainly hamper him going into qualifying, which starts at 06:00 BST.

    The Briton, who was just starting his first flying lap on the medium tyres, ran wide at Turn One. That destabilised the car and sucked him towards the gravel and then the barriers, making head-on contact.

  106. Team radio

    Lewis Hamilton hits wall

    Lewis Hamilton: "In the wall, front left." His engineer replies: "Copy that Lewis, we see the pictures."

  107. Lewis Hamilton crashes!

    Lewis Hamilton hits wall

    Would you believe it? Lewis Hamilton has hit the barriers at Turn One.

  108. Post update

    Nico Rosberg needs to apply some opposite lock on the exit of Spoon corner but he still does enough to go quickest with a 1:33.228, one second quicker than anyone else.

  109. Post update

    It's a disappointing lap for Daniel Ricciardo, who can only improve to the fourth fastest time on the medium tyres. BBC F1 analyst Allan McNish suggests the Australian lost around half a second in the middle sector when he ran wide at the Degner corner.

  110. Post update

    Jennie Gow

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter

    Sebastian Vettel

    "Vettel literally out of Red Bull."

  111. Post update

    It's time for the medium tyres to make an appearance. They're the option rubber this weekend and will be used in the closing stages of qualifying.

  112. Post update

    Nigel Mansell during an interview on BBC TV

    "I think it's a great move for Seb," says 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell. "He's won four titles with Red Bull and now he wants to go and win with another manufacturer."

  113. Post update

    Adrian Sutil

    Sauber: Great to see Adrian's fans in front of our garage.

  114. Post update

    Jessica Michibata in the garage during practice three

    Jenson Button's girlfriend Jessica Michibata doesn't look to happy as she stands at the back of the McLaren garage tapping away on her phone. Does she know something we don't? Is Button's career in F1, which started way back in 2000, all but over with Fernando Alonso set to rejoin McLaren?

  115. Sebastian Vettel's session over

    Sebastian Vettel's session is over, his race engineer informing him that they have an engine problem. That's not the first time the German has heard that this season...

  116. Post update

    Nigel Mansell, who had a seat fitting for the Williams FW11B this morning ahead of demo laps at Suzuka tomorrow providing the weather behaves, is in the Williams garage following the action.

  117. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    James Goodall: Think this is all bad news for Button. Is a shame. Would be good for McLaren to have Alonso/Button team to develop the Honda Package.

    Old Nicodemus: I don't think Button will want Alonso as a team mate So if Alonso goes to McLaren then Button will be off.

  118. Post update

    Lotus F1

    Lotus: Romain heads back in for a slipperiness evaluation. Turn involuntary-drift dial down by lots please.

  119. Thirty minutes to go

    With 30 minutes gone, there's still 30 minutes to go. Esteban Gutierrez almost hit the wall, Marcus Ericsson spun at the chicane while Lewis Hamilton leads the way on the timesheets.

    All that after Red Bull announced Sebastian Vettel is leaving at the end of the season, having agreed a deal with Ferrari. Fernando Alonso is leaving the Italian team and is set to rejoin McLaren.

    Here's how they stand: 1) Ham 2) Ros 3) Alo 4) Mas 5) Ric 6) Bot 7) Ver 8) But 9) Rai 10) Mag

  120. Post update

    Fernando Alonso goes second, but he's bumped down a place as Lewis Hamilton grabs the fastest time with a 1:34.210, three tenths quicker than his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    Vettel fastest
  121. Post update

    Felipe Massa's time at the top is short-lived as Nico Rosberg goes quickest with a 1:34.516, six tenths quicker.

  122. Post update

    Valtteri Bottas and then Williams team-mate Felipe Massa stretch their legs, taking it in turns to top the times.

  123. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Mercedes look untouchable, at least in the dry weather expected for qualifying. But although Sebastian Vettel was only fifth fastest, behind Valtteri Bottas's Williams and Jenson Button's McLaren in second practice, his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo still believes the world champions can be second best this weekend, even if he was stunned by the size of Mercedes' advantage.

    "'I was expecting something like Singapore, being a few tenths off the Mercedes,' Ricciardo said. 'They were really quick. We think they are there and then they pull out a gap like this. Looking at today we are not going to be able to do anything with that in qualifying. Maybe the race will change, but in the dry we could still be third on the grid.'"

  124. Post update

    Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finally break cover. Stand by.

  125. Post update

    Jean-Eric Vergne moves into P1, the Frenchman clocks a 1:35.494, three tenths quicker than Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. A strong finish to the season is imperative for Vergne. He needs a seat for next year.

  126. Post update

    Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, a three-time winner this year to move him into third in the drivers' standings, goes quickest with a 1:35.885.

  127. Post update

    Marcus Ericsson spins

    Marcus Ericsson spins at the chicane, but keeps the engine running and soon has his Caterham pointing the right way.

  128. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has arguably been the star of the season, the only driver to beat the Mercedes in a race, completely overshadowing four-time world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and not making a mistake worth the name in the process.

    "Well, that last achievement is now consigned to the dustbin after he crashed at the last corner early in second practice. Ricciardo admitted it was his own error after a cool-off lap was influenced by a yellow flag. 'The tyres probably cooled too much and out of the last chicane I got on the power and had a few moments and just couldn't catch it,' he said."

  129. Post update

    Sebastian Vettel has popped out in his Red Bull, as has his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. No sign of the Mercedes drivers as yet.

  130. Post update

    Esteban Gutierrez has a huge moment at 130R, running onto the gravel at high speed but just managing to keep his Sauber clear of the barriers.

  131. Post update

    Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne sets the early pace. How long do you think it took the Frenchman, who lost his seat to Max Verstappen next season, to get on the phone and ask if there's still a shot he could stay for 2015? Unfortunately for him it looks like the team will promote Carlos Sainz Jr.

  132. Get involved

    #bbcf1

    Reece Young: Vettel leaving red bull and Alonso possibly going to McLaren ! End of an era for Button?

    George Thoupi: I hope McLaren pair Button and Alonso, it would be a great base for Honda in 2015. The experience will benefit McLaren a lot.

  133. Post update

    Daniil Kvyat

    "I was very honoured, very surprised," says Daniil Kvyat, who has been promoted to the Red Bull team. "The people around me know I like to work hard and do my best."

  134. Go! Go! Go!

    Final practice is up and running, folks. Watch in the video console at the top of this page or on BBC Two.

  135. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Turning away from the fevered off-track discussion, Mercedes were in a league of their own in Friday practice, even more than normal. Lewis Hamilton was a gob-smacking 1.2 seconds quicker than third-placed Valtteri Bottas's Williams, and in the dry at least - as it is expected to remain for qualifying - he and team-mate Nico Rosberg appear to be completely untouchable.

    "The Mercedes drivers admitted to a sense of shock at their advantage. 'It changes from track to track and I don't really understand it,' Hamilton said. 'It's amazing what this team has done, to be able to come to one of the most demanding circuits for downforce and be that competitive is fantastic.' Rosberg added: 'The team has really brought a great car here. It's great to see. I think this track suits us. Yes I am a bit surprised [by the advantage] but the car just feels good.'"

  136. Post update

    Drivers' championship

    Lewis Hamilton has overturned a 29-point deficit to lead Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by three points with Daniel Ricciardo 57 further back. Check out the full standings here.

  137. Post update

    Lewis Hamilton

    Now to the formbook. Mercedes have been in a league of their own for much of these season and while that gap appeared to close in Singapore's street circuit, it has widened once more on the fast and sweeping turns of Suzuka.

    Lewis Hamilton got the better of team-mate Nico Rosberg, but there's very little between them. Which way will the momentum swing this weekend?

  138. Post update

    Qualifying follows at 06:00, with the build-up show starting at 05:00 on BBC One, and will also last an hour. As usual, it'll be split into three sessions. The first will see the six slowest drivers knocked out. The second will see another six bite the dust. That'll leave 10 to fight it out for pole in a 12-minute shoot-out.

  139. Post update

    Amid all the chaos, let's not forget that we've got some track action to look forward to! Third practice starts at 03:00 BST with live coverage on BBC Two. It's an opportunity for teams to complete any pre-race preparations and do a qualifying simulation run.

  140. Post update

    Allan McNish

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst

    "The fact Red Bull announced Kvyat was going to take up the place locks Alonso out of the Red Bull situation. Therefore we think he will sit himself back into the McLaren.

    "We do know that McLaren personnel have been sitting in their motorhome discussing and I am sure it is about what they are going to do."

  141. Get involved

    So what do you make of that then? Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari. Fernando Alonso looks set for McLaren. What of Jenson Button's future?

    Tweet #bbcf1, text us on 81111 (UK only) or leave a comment on the BBC Sport Facebook page with your reaction.

  142. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Alonso's departure has been assisted by outgoing president Luca Di Montezemolo. He asked Alonso if he could give him anything as a leaving gift. The 33-year-old, who has three times in the last four years finished runner-up to Vettel in the championship, asked to be released from his contract. Alonso is said by some sources to have already concluded a deal with McLaren-Honda."

  143. Post update

    "It's one of those things," says Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "We have to look back and reflect on the great times we've has together. Four world championships 38 victories, it has been a hell of a journey.

    "He joined us a young man and he has decided it was time to move on. All I can do is wish him well. He just reached a stage where he fancied a new challenge.

    "It has been our philosophy for several years now to back youth. We have demonstrated that it's worked. Daniil is a very exciting talent and it is an exciting new dawn for Red Bull Racing."

  144. Post update

    Sensational scenes at Suzuka. Who is going to make the next move?

  145. Post update

    Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer

    "Fernando Alonso's decision to leave Ferrari has come because the double world champion has lost faith in Ferrari's ability to deliver him a title-winning car and believes McLaren and new engine partner Honda are a better bet.

    "Ferrari has had a long-standing agreement with the German that he would join them when he leaves Red Bull, who brought Vettel into F1 and took him to four world titles from 2010-13."

  146. Post update

    Double world champion Fernando Alonso still had two more years to run on his contract but he and Ferrari have agreed to separate. He is expected to join McLaren-Honda for 2015.

    Team principal Christian Horner said Ferrari had made Sebastian Vettel "a very attractive offer."

  147. BreakingBREAKING NEWS

    Fernando Alonso

    And we can announce that Fernando Alonso is to leave Ferrari at the end of the season and the team will replace him with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

  148. Post update

    It seems Sebastian Vettel informed Red Bull team boss Christian Horner of his intentions last night. He will be replaced by Daniil Kvyat, who is promoted from their junior team Toro Rosso to race alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

  149. BreakingBREAKING NEWS

    Sebastian Vettel

    What a start to the morning. The driver merry-go-around has fired into action with Red Bull announcing that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel informed them that he will leave the team at the end of the season.

  150. Post update

    It's all kicking off at Suzuka!