The 2010 World Champion has claimed pole at the Sepang track on Saturday in a session that seemed to swing luck in the favour of McLaren until a frantic last minute reshuffle that saw the Red Bull drivers take pole and third on the grid.
On a day where the McLarens looked to dominate, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button had to settle for second and fourth while the fastest Ferrari on the circuit, driven by Fernando Alonso managed fifth.
McLaren that seemed to have the upper hand during practice was outdone by the Red Bull drivers in Q3 of the qualifying session as they made a dash for it during their second lap. Webber who was running pretty quick around the track lost time in the last two sectors that saw Hamilton gain two tenths on him, but not before Vettel took charge and managed to upstage Lewis by a tenth to take pole.
The Red Bull - McLaren quartet are separated by just three-tenths while the fifth placed Alonso qualified nearly a second down on them. Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov of Lotus Renault GP squeezed Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari to take sixth and eighth respectively while Nico Rosberg and Komui Kobayashi rounded off the top ten.
Meanwhile the Force India drivers - Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil qualified in 14th and 17th while Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan of Hispania Racing qualified 23rd and 24th, just within the 107 per cent time. Here are the qualifying times as follows:
1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull-Renault 1m 34.870s
2. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren-Mercedes 1m 34.974s
3. Mark Webber - Red Bull-Renault 1m 35.179s
4. Jenson Button - McLaren-Mercedes 1m 35.200s
5. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari 1m 35.802s
6. Nick Heidfeld - Lotus-Renault 1m 36.124s
7. Felipe Massa - Ferrari 1m 36.251s
8. Vitaly Petrov Lotus-Renault 1m 36.324s
9. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes GP 1m 36.809s
10. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber-Ferrari 1m 36.820s
11. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes GP 1m 37.035s
12. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 37.160s
13. Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 37.347s
14. Paul di Resta - Force India-Mercedes 1m 37.370s
15. Rubens Barrichello - Williams-Cosworth 1m 37.496s
16. Sergio Perez - Sauber-Ferrari 1m 37.528s
17. Adrian Sutil - Force India-Mercedes 1m 37.593s
18. Pastor Maldonado - Williams-Cosworth 1m 38.276s
19. Heikki Kovalainen - Lotus-Renault 1m 38.645s
20. Jarno Trulli - Lotus-Renault 1m 38.791s
21. Timo Glock - Virgin-Cosworth 1m 40.648s
22. Jerome d'Ambrosio - Virgin-Cosworth 1m 41.001s
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi - HRT-Cosworth 1m 41.549s
24. Narain Karthikeyan - HRT-Cosworth 1m 42.574s