Triple-time world champion reached at Suzuka keen to extend his 34-point gain over the nearest rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and took a big step towards doing so by scoring his 71st career pole position.
The Brit made a fastest lap of 1:27.319 in Q3 ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, resulted he has now scored pole position at all 20 circuits on the current F1 calendar.
Vettel, who has won four times at Suzuka for Japanese GP in the previous, but never took P1 with Ferrari, tomorrow will start from first row, made best of 1.27.791. Bottas’ five-place grid penalty lifted the German to front-row and Finn will starts from seventh.
Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are on the second row, with the third row being the Force India cars of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was sixth quickest, but a gearbox change of his own means the 2007 world champion will line-up 11th on the grid.
Double-world champion, Fernando Alonso qualified 10th for McLaren, but will start at the back due to a 35-place grid penalty for changes made to his Honda power unit.