The Red Bull driver clinched his 11th pole of the season — becoming the sixth man in F1 history to achieve that feat — by setting a time more than three-tenths of a second faster than his teammate Mark Webber.
The 24-year-old German was in a class of his own in claiming the top spot for the 11th time from 14 races this year, to move within three of equalling Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record for number of poles in a season.
Vettel’s hot lap of one minute 44.381secs under the bright lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit was a third of a second quicker than Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber. The pole also extends the team’s run to 15 in a row, with Red Bull closing in on Williams’ astonishing run of 24.
Webber knocked Lewis Hamilton off the front row as the Briton was poised for his fifth P2 start in succession. However, a puncture sustained in Q2 limited the McLaren star to only one run in the top-10 shoot-out in order to save a set of the faster supersoft tyres.
Hamilton will instead line up fourth behind team-mate Jenson Button, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fifth, followed by team-mate Felipe Massa and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in seventh.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and the Force India duo of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta opted not to set a time in Q3 and instead save tyres for what is likely to be a three-stop race.
Following his travails yesterday when he only managed seven-timed laps due to a number of issues, Di Resta performed superbly to make it into the top 10. The Q2 session was red-flagged after six of the 15 minutes due to Kamui Kobayashi ploughing into a barrier at turn 10 after he had hit a raised kerb through the chicane.
The impact lifted his Sauber a few feet into the air, the car then landing with a thud, and with no time to correct his line before careering straight on and out of qualifying, leaving the Japanese in 17th.
Team-mate Sergio Perez starts 11th, the Mexican ousted from the top 10 at the death by Di Resta. Williams finally showed signs of life with Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado 12th and 13th, with the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari sandwiching 15th-placed Bruno Senna (Renault).
For the first time this season the Renault of Vitaly Petrov failed to make it out of the initial 20-minute session, with the Russian dropping to 18th courtesy of a late lap from Senna. It was Petrov’s worst qualifying performance since the Korean Grand Prix last year, finishing a staggering 3.5secs behind Vettel, who topped Q1, and a second off Senna.
The Lotuses, Virgins and Hispanias take up the final six spots on the grid, with Vitantonio Liuzzi bringing up the rear, although within the required 107 per cent.
The protester was in critical condition, with burn injuries to the body
There is a chance of rainfall today in eastern areas of the country