Brazilian Felipe Massa took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday with championship-leading team mate Michael Schumacher alongside on an all-Ferrari front row.
While Schumacher moved a step closer to an unprecedented eighth world championship before retirement, his Renault title rival Fernando Alonso qualified only fifth.
World champion Alonso, level on points with the German but behind 7-6 on race wins, will have his work cut out with the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Italian Jarno Trulli between him and the Ferraris.
With two races remaining, including Sunday's showdown, Schumacher can clinch the title at Suzuka if he wins and champion Alonso fails to score.
McLaren, in serious danger of ending the season without a win for the first time since 1996, failed to get either of their cars into the top 10.
Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher's replacement at Ferrari next season and last year's winner at Suzuka from 17th place on the starting grid, qualified 11th.
Spanish team mate Pedro de la Rosa was 13th.
Polish rookie Robert Kubica ended his 100 percent record of qualifying in the top 10 with 12th place for BMW Sauber in his fifth grand prix start.
Japan's Sakon Yamamoto, who finished a Grand Prix for the first time in China last weekend, failed to set a timed lap at his home circuit and starts last for Super Aguri.