Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position for the crucial Japanese Grand Prix with a scintillating lap right at the end of qualifying - and then saw team-mates and rivals alike aid his quest to increase his advantage over title rival Felipe Massa.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen set the early pace, while Hamilton slotted into third behind Massa. However, having seen red, and no doubt been told that both Raikkonen and Massa had improved on their second and final run, the Briton dug deep and produced a time nearly two-tenths quicker than the world champion.

Things only got better for Hamilton after that, however, as both McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and nemesis Fernando Alonso squeezed themselves in front of Massa with laps that ended after the chequered flag, demoting the Brazilian to the inside of row three.

Robert Kubica salvaged something for BMW Sauber after Nick Heidfeld's early exit by taking sixth, putting the Pole ahead of both Toyotas - which clearly did not go for the glory of home pole as many expected - and the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais.,

Full report and times to follow...

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