Lewis Hamilton believes a mistake-free Japanese Grand Prix qualifying performance from Mercedes emphasised it is the best Formula 1 team when put under pressure, while Ferrari suffered its latest blunder.

Hamilton set the pace all weekend and followed up with the 80th pole position of his F1 career at Suzuka to secure a Mercedes front-row lock out in a dramatic rain-affected Q3 session that saw rivals Ferrari struggle.

Ferrari was the only team to send both its drivers out on intermediate tyres at the start of the top 10 shootout with the threat of rain looming but the gamble backfired, meaning Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were out of sequence and missed the chance to set a slick laptime when the track was at its driest.

Raikkonen went on to set the fourth-quickest time despite a scruffy lap, while Vettel will start Sunday's race from eighth on the grid after what proved to be a disastrous session for the Scuderia as rain increased in the closing moments of Q3.

“It is so difficult out there to make the call but I think that’s another real big difference we’ve made this year,” Hamilton explained.

“Every team has smart people but ultimately when it comes to being under pressure, making the right decisions and the right calls, that’s why we are the best team in the world and rightly so.

“The Ferraris pulled out the garage on the inters and I honestly didn't’ think it was the right decision. Obviously we made the right decision as a team.

“Today there was no mistakes made,” he added. “Even though there was pressure on us still, as there always is in qualifying, everyone was cool, calm and collected.”

Teammate Bottas could only get within 0.299s of Hamilton’s pole time but the opening salvo of times proved crucial as conditions worsened. The Finn praised Mercedes’ ability of dealing with the high-pressure situation.

“I’ve been in this team for less than two seasons and from what I’ve seen, today was one of our best days as a group,” he said.

“Everyone should be really proud with what we did, first of all with the car, but also with the way the team worked today. Every single decision was right and everyone was calm.

“It might look weird from the outside that it was such a hectic session and so on, but everything was so calm inside. We were just sticking to our plan and making the right choices.”