Lewis Hamilton is doing all that he can to walk away with the driver's championships. The Mercedes driver, who leads title rival Sebastian Vettel by 34 points at 281, finished on pole for Japanese Grand Prix 2017, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 8.
Hamilton smashes Schumacher's Suzuka record
Hamilton also won his maiden pole at the Suzuka and he did it in style by smashing Michael Schumacher's circuit record of 1:28.954s by clocking a fastest lap of 1:27.319s in the qualifying on Saturday.
While third practice session was washed out by rain, Hamilton started Q1 on a good note clocking 1:29.047s, followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (1:29.163s) and Malaysia GP winner Max Verstappen (1:29.181s).
In Q2, Hamilton raced ahead of the rest of the pack, setting 1:27.819s. Vettel improved and jumped to the second spot with 1:28.225s. In the record-breaking Q3, Mercedes driver just unleashed a terrific lap (1:27.319s) and his teammate Valtteri Bottas came close with a timing of 1:27.651s.
However, the Finn will not start alongside Hamilton as he received a five-place grid penalty for unauthorised gearbox change.
Meanwhile, Raikkonen was also give a five-place grid penalty for crashing in final practice, after which he was also forced to change his gearbox.
Important race for Vettel
After suffering a crash in Singapore and failing to finish on the podium in Malaysia, Vettel needs to buckle up and start winning if he is to make full use of what has been an improved season for Ferrari in 2017.
With 125 points available from the last five races of the season, the German needs to send out a message to his rival, Hamilton, by winning at Suzuka.
While expressing more relief than joy after clinching his first pole at Suzuka, the Brit conceded the job is only half done as he said he anticipates a good show from Ferrari on Sunday.
"I anticipate a little bit more hopefully a little bit more like [the Belgian Grand Prix at] Spa, where Ferrari is going be right on us and potentially a little bit quicker. So strategy and how I look after the tyre is going to be key. But I am ready, I'm game and I am on it," Hamilton said, as quoted by the BBC.
He added: "It has taken me forever to get this pole. That's a complete list of all the tracks. I have a pole on all the circuits now, which is kind of crazy to think."
Meanwhile, Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will start from the second row of the grid and the team is capable of causing an upset in case there is rain on Sunday.
Provisional grid (Top 8): Hamilton, Vettel; Ricciardo, Verstappen; Ocon, Bottas; Perez, Massa.
When does the race start and how to watch it live
The Japanese GP will start at 2pm local time, 10:30am IST, 5am GMT
Live streaming and TV coverage
India: TV: Star Sports Select HD2. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
UK: TV: Sky Sports F1. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.
USA: TV: NBCSN. Live Streaming: NBC Sports Live.
South East Asia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Fox Sports Play.
Australia: TV: Ten HD. Live Streaming: Ten Play.