Sebastian Vettel labelled his qualifying in Japan "nearly perfect" after securing his fourth consecutive pole at Suzuka.
The Red Bull driver put an end to McLaren's run of four poles in a row this season to help his team complete a front row lock-out ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.
The result was Vettel's fourth pole of the season and the 34th of his career.
"It is not bad! I am very, very happy with today's result," said Vettel, the winner of the previous race in Singapore.
"I think we had a very smooth qualifying session, nearly perfect. I could not have asked for more.
"We didn't have best start to the weekend yesterday. I wasn't very happy, but it got better each time I went out.
"The car feels fantastic around here. I was able to pick up a bit more overnight and it all came together nicely and now we hope for a very good race tomorrow."
The world champion admitted his team had to dig deep to make his car so competitive after a difficult Friday.
"We worked very hard to get it where it is now," Vettel said. "This year we are struggling in places and corners where traditionally we were competitive so didn't know what to expect here.
"Sector one seemed very competitive here all weekend. I am happy we are back to the shape we had the last couple of years around here."
Vettel, second in the standings, will start the race five places ahead of championship leader Fernando Alonso.