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Summary

  1. Hamilton takes pole
  2. Vettel starts 2nd following Bottas penalty
  3. Grosjean crashes heavily
  4. Alonso set for 35-place grid penalty
  5. Get involved #bbcf1

Live Reporting

By Gary Rose

All times stated are UK

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Lewis Hamilton on pole position, his title rival Sebastian Vettel alongside him knowing a slip up tomorrow and his hopes of winning the championship could be as good as over.

Tomorrow is all set to be epic.

Race starts at 06:00 BST, we'll be building up from 04:30. Grab a big mug of coffee and join us.

See you then.

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Almost time for us to wrap things up but if you have just popped in to see what's going on, check out Andrew Benson's report on qualifying here.

This is a first for Lewis Hamilton.

He has never been on pole position at Suzka but has won two of the last three races at the circuit.

Win tomorrow, and is the title race as good as over?

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Get involved #bbcf1

Phil Slocombe: Whatever the team found in car performance, Lewis and Valtteri have complemented with driving skill.

Niv: This shows that Suzuka is a Mercedes track. Hopefully, Ferrari's race pace is much better than quali pace.

'Reasonably happy'

Sebastian Vettel, who qualified third but will move up to second because of Valtteri Bottas' penalty: "I'm reasonably happy.

"I tried everything on the last lap - would have loved to be a bit quicker."

'A difficult weekend'

Valtteri Bottas, who qualified second but has a five-place grid penalty to serve tomorrow: "It's been a difficult weekend but my driving has been getting better."

'Incredible'

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Lewis Hamilton, who secured the 71st pole position of his career: "Incredible. It's been a really good day. Every lap was fantastic. I never did great in qualifying here. To finally get the balance here, thanks to the great work of my engineers, I finally went out on track and did a time. The car is crazy here. I was running out of opportunities so had to make it stick."

Qualifying top 10

1) Hamilton

2) Bottas

3) Vettel

4) Ricciardo

5) Verstappen

6) Raikkonen

7) Ocon

8) Perez

9) Massa

10) Alonso

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

Lewis Hamilton, what a superb pole position. Valtteri Bottas did react under the pressure and not a bad margin to Hamilton.

Disappointment for Sebastian Vettel not being on the front row. You look at the Red Bull, they are a full second slower and goes to show the variance in performance between Malaysia last week and here.

Stunning. Simply stunning by Lewis Hamilton. Nothing anyone else could do about that. When he is on it, he's on it.

Valtteri Bottas qualifies second while Sebastian Vettel is third.

Chequered flag

Lewis Hamilton secures pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton goes even quicker!

It's a 1:27.319 and surely pole position.

Was it ever in doubt?

Valtteri Bottas improves but his time is three tenths slower than Lewis Hamilton's first run...

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Reece Young: Lewis Hamilton is at his stunning best today

Niv: Ever since he got his new contract, Valtteri Bottas has underperformed.

Josh Earl: Another track record for Lewis! I can't see anyone other than Lewis who can better it!

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

The gap between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas is a country mile in F1 terms. The upset of the accident in final practice cannot have helped but once again he is slower than Hamilton by a margin that will cause him and the team a little concern.

Relief for Sebastian Vettel that this performance will secure him a front row seat, which I think will be the best he can hope for.

Fernando Alonso heads out for the first time in Q3 before Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton begin their second runs.

Top 10 as it stands

1) Hamilton 1:27.345

2) Vettel +0.462

3) Bottas +0.641

4) Ricciardo +1.099

5) Verstappen

6) Ocon

7) Perez

8) Massa

No time: Raikkonen, Alonso

Kimi Raikkonen had a moment at the same place he hit the wall in final practice. He managed to catch it this time but had to abandon his lap.

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Sebastian Vettel splits the Mercedes but he is four tenths off Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton is at his absolute best.

Valtteri Bottas is the first to cross the line, doing so in 1:27.986 but Lewis Hamilton smashes that time out of the park!

He goes sixth tenths quicker as a new track record of 1:27.345 puts him on provisional pole.

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth tenths slower than Lewis Hamilton over the first sector. Valtteri Bottas two tenths.

Lewis Hamilton quickest of all through the first two sectors...

Everyone apart from Fernando Alonso is out on the circuit.

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Just Mick: Vandoorne gets free tyre choice qualifying P11, so I think McLaren called it right not putting him in front of Alonso

Final qualifying starts

The clock is ticking and the top 10 shootout is under way.

Romain Grosjean
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Romain Grosjean has been speaking to BBC Radio 5 live about his earlier crash: "The car felt really good on the first run in qualifying. It was in the top 10. We went for a second run, didn't change much, and the car balance went very, very oversteery for no real reason.

"We are going to investigate that. Of course, I pushed a bit more but I don't think that that would explain how much oversteer we picked up."

Interestingly, Lewis Hamilton had improved through the first and second sectors but was much slower through the final sector. Keeping his cards close to his chest?

Either way, he's looking on it . Sebastian Vettel is going to need to produce something special.

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

Stoffel Vandoorne will move up to the fifth row as long as Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas qualify well. He could move up further if they don't.

IN

1) Hamilton

2) Vettel

3) Bottas

4) Verstappen

5) Ricciardo

6) Raikkonen

7) Ocon

8) Perez

9) Massa

10) Alonso

OUT

11) Vandoorne

12) Hulkenberg

13) Magnussen

14) Palmer

15) Sainz

Chequered flag

Lewis Hamilton finishes quickest in the second part of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso improves on his second run to move up to 10th but the offshoot of that is it knocks his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne into the drop zone. Alonso has a penalty to serve, Vandoorne doesn't.

Woops.

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

Cat and mouse game being played between Mercedes and Ferrari. On the basis of what we are seeing Lewis Hamilton is continuing a strong run as he aims for his first pole position here.

Only Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen have decided not head out for another lap.

A minute left of Q2.

Mark Gallagher

BBC Radio 5 live Formula 1 analyst

Fernando Alonso will have a grid penalty because the McLaren team had to conduct an overnight engine change on his Honda engine at this - Honda's home circuit.

Everyone is back in the pits after their first runs. I doubt we'll see the top four or five out again in Q2. The drivers in the elimination zone are:

11) Alonso

12) Hulkenberg

13) Palmer

14) Magnussen

15) Sainz

Top 10 as it stands

1) Hamilton

2) Vettel

3) Bottas

4) Verstappen

5) Ricciardo

6) Raikkonen

7) Ocon

8) Perez

9) Massa

10) Vandoorne