Vettel reprimanded but retains Japan pole
Sebastian Vettel will keep his Japanese Grand Prix pole position but has been reprimanded by the stewards for impeding Ferrari's Fernando Alonso during qualifying.
Red Bull driver Vettel struck early in the final part of qualifying to take his fourth straight pole at Suzuka with a lap of one minute 30.839 seconds.
It is Vettel's 34th in all, moving him to an outright third on the all-time list behind only Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
But, shortly after the session finished, Vettel and championship leader Alonso, who set the seventh-fastest time, were summoned to appear before the stewards to investigate allegations he had baulked the Spaniard at the chicane during the final moments of qualifying.
A grid penalty would have dealt Vettel's title hopes a blow, but the reprimand means he will lead the field away at the start of Sunday's 53-lap race with Red Bull the dominant force thus far this weekend.
Mark Webber made it an all-Red Bull front row while home hero Kamui Kobayashi will start third for Sauber as 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.
It was a bitterly disappointing day for Lewis Hamilton, on a weekend dominated by his move to Mercedes for 2013. He will start behind Button even with his team-mate's penalty.