Sebastian Vettel scored his first pole position since Silverstone in a chaotic Suzuka qualifying session interrupted by three red flags for massive crashes, one of which left Timo Glock injured. Vettel dominated the session for Red Bull, setting the fastest time in all three segments and beating Toyota's Jarno Trulli and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to pole.
The first two red flags occurred in Q2, starting when Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari ploughed head-on into the Degner barriers after running wide on entry. The Spaniard was assisted out of his car but soon declared unhurt and cleared to race.

Then Glock had an even larger crash as he accelerated out of the final chicane - his Toyota understeering over the gravel at speed and spearing into the barriers. The medical team carefully extracted Glock, who was conscious and moving in the cockpit, and he was removed from the scene on a stretcher. The German waved to the crowd as he was placed into an ambulance and is being taken to hospital by helicopter with pain in his back and left leg.

With the red flags having interrupted most drivers' Q2 flying laps, there was a last minute sprint to get through to Q3 - and this was also interrupted when Sebastien Buemi crashed on the exit of Spoon and deposited his Toro Rosso's front wing and other debris in the middle of the track as he limped back to the pits.
Pos  Driver       Team                       Q1        Q2        Q3
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:30.883 1:30.341 1:32.160
2. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:31.063 1:30.737 1:32.220
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:30.917 1:30.627 1:32.395
4. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:31.386 1:31.222 1:32.466
5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:31.272 1:31.055 1:32.660
6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:31.501 1:31.260 1:32.945
7. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:31.041 1:30.880 1:32.962
8. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:31.228 1:31.052 1:32.980
9. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:31.499 1:31.223
10. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:31.196 1:31.103
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:31.286 1:31.482
12. Alonso Renault (B) 1:31.401 1:31.638
13. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:31.417 1:32.341
14. Glock Toyota (B) 1:31.550
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:31.571
16. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:31.704
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:31.718
18. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:32.073
19. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:32.087
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B)

Five Formula 1 drivers were given penalties for not lifting off during a yellow-flag period in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. Championship leader Jenson Button, team-mate Rubens Barrichello, Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Force India's Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi were given five-place grid penalties after the session.

The race stewards deemed the first four drivers had not lifted off sufficiently at the end of Q2, when Buemi had crashed, leaving debris on track.

Swiss driver Buemi was also reprimanded by the stewards for driving back to the pits with a damaged car and impeding other drivers.