LAP 1: Championship leader Fernando Alonso is out the race and the safety car is out after a dramatic start to the race. Romain Grosjean lost the nose of the car as several cars came together at the green light. Rosberg also out the race.
IT'S GO GO GO!
0602 GMT: The cars are lining up. Here we go.
0559 GMT: Two minutes to go...Fasten your seatbelts.
0555 GMT: Lewis Hamilton zips up and climbs into his McLaren. He'll need to take those sunglasses off first.
0547 GMT: Thirteen minutes to go... AFP photographer Toshifumi Kitamura, at the circuit, says that it's a packed house and under glorious sunshine. Just like the olden days, he says, as thousands of F1 fans decked out in the colours of their favourite team take their seats.
0545 GMT: And what of the retiring Michael Schumacher? The German legend, who announced in Japan that he will retire (again) at the end of this season, is in the last row of the grid in his Mercedes.
0542 GMT: It has not been a good weekend for McLaren so far at Suzuka. Jenson Button was third-fastest in qualifying but was dumped five places for a gearbox change, while Lewis Hamilton is way back on the fifth row of the grid.
0538 GMT: There are just five races left in the season after Japan and Sebastian Vettel is squeezing Fernando Alonso at the top of the drivers' standings. Ferrari have struggled for pace so far in Japan, as they did in Singapore, which must be a real concern for Alonso as we approach the decisive end of the campaign.
0533 GMT: So less than 30 minutes till the big off. AFP photographer Toshifumi Kitamura tells me from the track that it's perfect racing conditions -- sunny and about 25 degrees Celsius (78 F).
0530 GMT: WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT of the Japanese Grand Prix, where Sebastian Vettel will start on pole after a blistering performance in qualifying. The German shot his way to the front of the pack at Suzuka ahead of team-mate Mark Webber as Red Bull locked out the front of the grid.
Vettel, the double defending world champion who won last month in Singapore to rise to second in the standings, claimed his fourth pole in a row in Japan with a supreme level of speed and a lightning fastest lap of 1min 30.839secs.
The German's fourth pole of the season and the 34th of his career gives him a great opportunity to close the 29-point gap on Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the championship leader who was only seventh fastest in qualifying.
Jenson Button was third fastest but was hit with a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. His McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton is back on the fifth row of the grid.
Home hope Kamui Kobayashi, of Sauber, and the Lotus driver Romain Grosjean are on the second row, followed by Sergio Perez in his Sauber and Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen, of Lotus, is along side Button on the fourth row, with Hamilton and Felipe Massa rounding out the top 10.