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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Suzuka
Ferraris Sebastian Vettel made a scintillating performance to take pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix.
It had been the first pole since the Canadian Grand Prix of Vettel in June and stopped a streak of nine races being out-qualified by team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Even the 21-year-old Monegasque, that has taken rod at the last four races, was next, 0.189 minutes behind.
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth, equally just over 0.2secs from the Ferraris.
Red Bulls Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon were sixth and fifth, setting exactly the identical lap time, 0.787secs off the pace, an enormously impressive performance from the Anglo-Thai on his first trip to Suzuka.
But the storyline was Vettel, who has struggled somewhat in the next half of this season under the struggle of Leclerc but revived memories of some of his best performances for pole position at an illustrious career with just two laps enough.
Vettel revelled in his performance on the magnificent Suzuka track after a catchy session where drivers were confronted with gusting winds from Typhoon Hagibis, which compelled qualifying to be postponed until race morning from Saturday.
Vettel explained:Were very surprised. We didnt expect to have front row. It was incredible, the car being on and so mild fresh tyres and we had mind wind through the Esses which is what you want. I dont think I touched the wheels (there) besides Turn Two.
Leclerc was threatening him until he made some errors at the chicane and quickening on to the final straight but admitted that Vettel was simply too great for him.
Seb did a amazing lap, Leclerc said,and now he just deserves to be on rod. Ive been a bit fighting since the start of the weekend. But I have been pretty happy with my lap aside from the industry when I did some errors. But to tell the truth, pole was possible, Seb was just too fast.
Leclerc said that he had been wary of the threat from the Mercedes cars at the race.
Mercedes are very fast in the race, he said,and it isnt going to be easy but we will try to focus on our job and keep it one-two.
Mercedes had dominated but felt so it proved, that Ferrari held something in book afterward.
Bottas, who has appeared faster than Hamilton all weekend, said:We looked quite strong but we always understood Ferrari might have something to turn up. Through the straights theyre unbeatable. But were fast through the corners.
The conditions resulted in 2 drivers crashing out as Williams driver Robert Kubica and Haas Kevin Magnussen both dropped controller at the corner at the early part of non invasive, in precisely exactly the identical region.
Kubica ran wide and understeered in the barriers, while Magnussen spun and struck the hurdles backwards, even though he was able to receive his car back.
Both groups face a race against time to get the cars ready in the short period before the race starts at 14:10 local time (06:10 BST).
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