The Brit, 33, performed well as the rain began to fall at Suzuka but the Ferrari man struggled to control his car and faces an uphill task to keep the championship race competitive.
Sebastian Vettel suffered an early spin but Marcus Ericsson crashed out in spectacular fashion just five minutes into Q1.
Fernando Alonso went out in the first session while Daniel Ricciardo followed suit in the second after losing power for Red Bull.
More to follow
Japan GP Final Qualifying
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