At the beginning of Q1, the rest of the field was under pressure when Yuki Tsunoda crashed, bringing out the red flag during the first few runs.
Returning to the circuit, Vettel was able to put up a lap time of 1:32.132 on brand-new Soft tyres to get into the top seven for the first time.
Vettel's lap-time was proved to be crucial because of a late crash from Mick Schumacher which prevented late improvements, making initial laps effectively decide the battle to qualify into Q2.
By the end of Q1, Vettel was able to finish eigth securing a spot in the top ten battle.
At the beginning of Q2, Vettel changed his tyre compounds to the medium compound despite the fact that the bulk of the field had chosen the mid-range as well.
Vettel surged into Q3 contention with just 10 minutes left on the clock after recording a 1:31.867 laptime that placed him ninth.
Unfortunately, on his second run on the Medium compounds, he was unable to better his time putting him to start 12th on the grid.
Vettel will have a chance to compete for poinds in what is likely to be a tyre management race, with the top 10 predominantly favouring the Medium tyres.
Post-qualifying Vettel comments, "We looked strong in Q1 on the soft tyres, but I do not think anybody wanted to start the race on the soft tyres, which is why we ran on the medium tyres in Q2."
He adds, "We believed there was a real chance to make Q3 on the medium, but, for yet unknown reasons, the balance did not feel as good on my last run."
To continue, "The front end was washing out and I could not extract the grip I needed. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard, but we were not far away from making Q3."
He concludes, "For tomorrow, we have a free choice of tyres, but all of the top 10 will be on the medium tyres anyway, so it is not easy to vary the strategy. Tomorrow will be about who is best at managing the tyre life and degradation."