Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (centre) competes with Williams' Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (left) and McLaren's Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne during the qualifying session of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. AFP

SUZUKA: Championship leader Lewis Hamilton seized pole position with a dominant display in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Briton lapped the Suzuka Circuit in one minute, 27.319 seconds in his Mercedes, the outright fastest ever at the 5.8-km track, to finish well clear of his rivals.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel of Germany waves after finishing third next to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain and Valtteri Bottas of Finland after Japanese Grand Prix qualifying. REUTERS

His team mate Valtteri Bottas set the second fastest time but will drop five places after collecting a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

That will elevate Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, who was third quickest nearly half a second off the pace, to the front row of the grid alongside Hamilton.

The German trails the Hamilton by 34 points in the overall standings with just five of the season’s 20 races left.--REUTERS

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