Sebastian Vettel boosted his World Championship hopes as he claimed his fourth consecutive Japanese Grand Prix pole position while Fernando Alonso struggled at Suzuka.

The Red Bull driver produced a superb lap of one minute 30.839 seconds to secure the 34th pole of his career, moving him third on the all-time list - behind only Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

Mark Webber made it an all-Red Bull front row while home hero Kamui Kobayashi will start third for Sauber.

McLaren's Jenson Button, who set the third fastest time, serves a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

But World Championship leader Alonso, who holds a 29-point advantage over Vettel, will only start sixth as Ferrari's recent struggles continued