Sebastian Vettel may be on the verge of bowing out of the Formula One title race, but continues to do all he can to keep himself in the mix, taking his fourth pole position of the year with fastest time in Japan.

The German was the class of qualifying, topping each of the three sessions, but again had to wait for another red flag interruption to pass before claiming the pole, after Heikki Kovalainen went off at Degner before posting a time.

Kimi Raikkonen was again the first to post a flying lap, but the Finn was no match for Vettel, who bided his time before venturing out, and then slashed the benchmark time by almost a second.

Simiarly, no-one had an answer for Vettel after the Red Bull car had reset the target, with Jarno Trulli cementing second on the grid for Toyota nearly half a second adrift.

After that, the best anyone could manage was third, with Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil both occupying the position before Lewis Hamilton made it his with a late run. The Briton will line up alongside friend and rival Sutil for the second time in three races, while title contender Rubens Barrichello claimed a top five slot with his sole flier.

That put the Brazilian two places ahead of points leader Jenson Button, who managed only seventh as he followed his Brawn team-mate across the line, relegating Raikkonen to eighth. Kovalainen joined Sebastien Buemi - who damaged his Toro Rosso at the end of Q2 - on row five after failing to set a time.

Full report and results to follow....