Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
will start the Japanese Grand Prix
from the front row after topping the times in qualifying for Red Bull, but any late threats were effectively nullified by a spinning Kimi Raikkonen.
While it was unlikely that Vettel's 1min 30.839secs effort would be deposed from top spot, Webber could have come under threat from the McLarens had the session been allowed to run uninterrupted. However, a brief period with yellow flags flying over Raikkonen's Lotus at the exit of Spoon, the final pushes from others were hampered, leaving Webber to retain second spot.
Button's final effort was good enough to cement third on the timesheets, but the Briton will drop to eighth after his gearbox penalty is applied. That promotes home hero Kamui Kobayashi
to the inside of row two, with Romain Grosjean
provisionally fourth, although the Frenchman could yet face sanction for hindering Paul di Resta in Q2. Kobayashi, too, could attract the wrath of the stewards after his best S2 time came while passing the stranded Raikkonen...
Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso
and Raikkonen will all also move up at Button's expense, leaving the Briton to slot in ahead of McLaren
team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who was unable to better ninth. Nico Hulkenberg
filled tenth spot, but did not set a time as the Force India
team confirmed that he would have to take a five-place drop after needing a new gearbox.
Pole position was the 34th of Vettel's career, which still does not total 100 grands prix, and puts the German in prime spot to close in on Alonso's points advantage, which stands at 29 points after Singapore.
Full qualifying session report
and qualifying times