Nico Rosberg stormed to pole position in China after Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton suffered technical trouble and dropped out in Q1, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo edged out the two Ferrari drivers.
Rosberg trailed Kimi Räikkönen after the first Q3 runs, but stormed clear with a second effort of 1:35.402, half a second clear of the pack.
Daniel Ricciardo also made significant gains on his final attempt to usurp the Ferraris, which both went in too deep at the final hairpin.
Vettel completed just one flying lap in the final phase, as he saved a set of tyres for the race, and only just made the second row.
Hamilton was the big name missing from the pole position shootout, after an ERS problem developed in Q1 and prevented him from posting a lap time.
Details from GP Updates