Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg took his third straight pole at Suzuka and his eighth of the season for Mercedes Getty

Nico Rosberg made sure he was the quickest when it mattered after being the fastest in every session this weekend to take his eighth pole position of the season. The German beat his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had to settle for second place just 0.013s behind, which is a step up for the reigning world champion, who has struggled to lock down a quick lap all weekend.

Kimi Raikonnen continued his good form and out-qualified Sebastian Vettel to take third place, and his teammate made it an all-Ferrari second row, but will take a three place grid penalty owing to his first lap collision at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Racing team were expecting to give Mercedes a battle for pole position, but had to settle for fifth and sixth places with Max Verstappen out-qualifying his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Dutch driver will join Raikonnen on the second row owing to Vettel's punishment, with the German moving down to seventh place.

The next four places on the grid were split among the Force India and Haas Racing Team drivers with Sergio Perez taking seventh — but will start sixth — ahead of Romain Grosjean in eighth, Nico Hulkenberg was in ninth place with Esteban Gutierrez rounding out the top ten.

The American owned team was the surprise of the qualifying session as both cars qualified for Q3 for the first time this season. They outpaced the more fancied Williams team and also got one car ahead of Force India.

All eyes, however, will be on the front row as the Mercedes drivers resume their title battle. Rosberg is ahead of Hamilton by 23 points after the latter's DNF in Malaysia, but the German is yet to win in Suzuka, while the Briton has won the race back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, while starting in second place behind Rosberg on both occasions.

The Ferrari and Red Bull will battle for the final place on the podium and to take advantage of any mishaps to the two Silver Arrows cars ahead of them. The Italian team will be keen to claw some points back in their race for second place in the constructors' championship, which Mercedes can wrap with a one-two in Japan.

The battle on the grid is between Force India and Williams for fourth place in the constructors' championship, with the former ahead by just three points at the moment. However, the weather conditions could also play a major role in the race on Sunday (9 October) with rain expected at some point during the duration of the Grand Prix.