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Published: 10:31 | 7/10/17

Dominant Hamilton takes Japan GP pole

Lewis Hamilton secured his 10th pole in 16 races this season as he proved a cut above in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The British driver was 0.332secs faster than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas after producing two superb laps in qualifying at Suzuka.

Word drivers' title rival Sebastian Vettel was 0.472secs off the blistering pace set by the three-time champion but will start in second place in Sunday's race as Bottas will suffer a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Vetterl's Ferrari colleague Kimi Raikkonen was also penalised, only managing sixth after crashing in final practice, while he will also drop down a further five places after being forced to replace his gearbox following the smash.

With a deficit of 34 points to Hamilton and only four races remaining after this weekend, Vettel cannot afford to lose any more ground to Hamilton, who is bullish about his prospects of extending his lead.

"We have worked hard for the car to hopefully work well in the race," Hamilton said. "The Esses really kill the tyres. I am hoping we are in a good position for that.

"Naturally, the Ferraris will be rapid as they always are - but I plan to keep them behind.

"Super-excited [about Sunday]. It's been 10 years trying to get that pole. 

"Finally got it. I knew it would eventually come."

Hamilton's first pole at the event also saw him break Michael Schumacher's 11-year track record, shattering the previous quickest lap time by a whopping 1.653secs.

The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen came home fourth and fifth respectively with the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez seventh and eighth.

Williams Felipe Massa was ninth while Fernando Alonso was 10th fastest.

However, Alonso was hit with a 35-place penalty after his McLaren team broke the Friday curfew after discovering a hydraulics problem in the Spaniard's power-unit, forcing them to replace his engine, after already using more than the permitted energy parts this season.

Renault's Jolyon Palmer will join Alonso at the back with a 20-place grid penalty, after being penalised for making further changes too.

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on eir sport 1 this Sunday, coverage beginning at 6am.

Image: Getty/Mark Thomspon.

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