Vettel takes pole position at Japan Grand Prix

Last updated 19:23 06/10/2012
Vettel STD
NEEDS TO KEEP WINNING: Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and hopes to do the same in Japan.

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Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix by qualifying ahead of teammate Mark Webber on Saturday.

Vettel, a two-time winner in Japan, secured his fourth consecutive pole at Suzuka and will be in a good position in Sunday's race to further erode the championship lead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

''We had a very smooth qualifying session, nearly perfect'' Vettel said.

''The car felt perfect from the start. We didn't have a great result yesterday so I'm very happy with today's session.'' Vettel won the previous race in Singapore and is just 29 points behind Alonso in the standings with six races left.

Alonso qualified seventh, and all of Red Bull's championship rivals will start the race several places back after a yellow caution flag in the final moments of qualifying prevented them getting in a last flying lap.

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, third in the standings, caused the yellow flag when he spun at the edge of the track, and qualified eighth, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton obeyed the flags and slowed, qualifying ninth.

McLaren teammate Jenson Button qualified third but will start eighth due to a gearbox replacement penalty.

''It's going to be tough tomorrow,'' Button said. ''Never say never, and we will have a good car for the race tomorrow.''

Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher - who announced Thursday he will retire at season's end - qualified 13th but has a 10-place penalty for causing a crash in the previous Singapore Grand Prix so will start on the back row.

Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi gave the local fans a thrill by qualifying fourth, ahead of Lotus' Romain Grosjean.

Sauber's Sergio Perez, who will switch to McLaren next season to replace the Mercedes-bound Hamilton, was sixth while Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was 10th but will drop five places for changing a gearbox in the pre-qualifying practice session.

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- AP

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