Formula One

 
            === Vettel captures fourth straight Japanese GP pole ===
 
 Suzuka, Japan (Sports Network) - Two-time defending Formula One world champion
 Sebastian Vettel claimed his fourth consecutive pole position for the Japanese
 Grand  Prix  after topping his  Red Bull  teammate, Mark Webber, in Saturday's
 qualifying.
 
 Vettel's lap time in 1 minute, 30.839 seconds at Suzuka Circuit earned the 25-
 year-old  German his 34th  career F1 pole, which put him in sole possession of
 third on the all-time pole winners list.
 
 "I'm  very,  very happy with  today's result," Vettel said.  "I think we had a
 very,  very  smooth qualifying session,  nearly perfect. So we really couldn't
 ask for more. The car felt fantastic from the start."
 
 Vettel  turned  in the quickest lap  during the final practice session for the
 Japanese  GP earlier in the day. He won this grand prix in 2009 and '10 before
 placing third in it last year.
 
 Two  weeks  ago, Vettel  won the Singapore  Grand Prix and  moved to within 29
 points of leader Fernando Alonso from Ferrari.
 
 Vettel's  qualifying  lap was 0.25 seconds  faster than Webber. It's the first
 time this season that Red Bull has secured the front starting row.
 
 "It's been a good weekend for us so far," Webber said. "I'm happy to be on the
 front  row and  looking forward to a  good result tomorrow. For the team, it's
 just  a great  tonic for them, at  this point in the championship, to have the
 cars towards the front again."
 
 Red Bull also ended McLaren's streak of four pole wins in a row. Jenson Button
 from  McLaren  qualified third  but received  a five-grid  spot penalty for an
 unscheduled  gearbox  change. Button,  who is the  defending race winner, will
 start eighth.
 
 "It  was  a good  qualifying run  for us, just  a pity  we're starting back in
 eighth,"  Button  said. "This place is  such a nice  place to fight for a win.
 It's  going to be  very difficult for me tomorrow but never say never. There's
 always possibilities, and I think we have a good race car."
 
 Sauber's  Kamui  Kobayashi will start  third, followed by Romain Grosjean from
 Lotus  and Kobayashi's teammate, Sergio Perez, who will replace Lewis Hamilton
 at McLaren next season when Hamilton moves over to Mercedes.
 
 Alonso qualified seventh after his final lap in Q3 was impeded due to a yellow
 flag  brought  out when Lotus'  Kimi Raikkonen  spun around. Alonso will start
 sixth based on Button's penalty.
 
 "What  can I say, other than get angry about being unlucky," Alonso said. "The
 yellow  flags came at the worst possible moment, when I was coming out of turn
 14.  Up  until then, my lap  was great, and there  was a chance of setting the
 fourth  fast time of the day, which would have seen me start from third on the
 grid."
 
 Raikkonen will roll off seventh, while Hamilton will start ninth after winning
 the  pole in the  last two grand prix -- Italy and Singapore. Hamilton had his
 final qualifying lap hindered from the yellow flag as well.
 
 Michael  Schumacher, who announced his retirement at season's end earlier this
 week, qualified 13th but dropped 10-grid spots for the penalty he received for
 causing  an  accident  during  the  Singapore  GP.  Hamilton  is  taking  over
 Schumacher's ride at Mercedes next year.
 
 Sunday's 53-lap Japanese GP is scheduled to start at 2 a.m. (ET).
 
 10/06 08:27:33 ET

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