Vettel edged out team-mate Mark Webber by a tenth of a second as Red Bull again stamped their dominance on proceedings while Romain Grosjean’s strong end to the season continued as he guided his Lotus to third.
Nico Hulkenberg guided his Sauber to fourth, while Lewis Hamilton was the top British driver in fifth, just ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
But it was take some stopping Vettel, who remains on target to equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 13 wins in a single season and Alberto Ascari’s 60-year best of nine straight race wins.
And it was also a birthday to remember for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, as his drivers locked out the front row for fifth time this season.
“It’s a good result to have both cars on the front row,” said Vettel, who now has 44 career pole positions on his record.
“It was a tricky session as the wind picked up quite a lot from this morning. It’s not that easy round the high-speed corners.
“I was not happy with my first run, but I think I had a solid run at he end which was enough to put the car on pole.
“It was a good battle with Mark, he has got closer and closer as the weekend has gone on. I think he might have had a mistake in his final shot.
“I’m happy with pole position. I really like this place. I like this circuit. It’s important to start on the clean side so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Webber – who will retire from F1 after the concluding race of the season in Brazil – admitted disappointment with his performance, claiming he let pole position slip through his fingers.
“Seb put three sectors together and I put two-and-a-half together,” he said.
“It’s not satisfying when you do that – it’s not your job. But I’m happy to be there on the front.”
Grosjean insisted he was happy to be the best of the rest, as he seeks his fourth podium finish in five races.
“The Red Bulls are very quick, but we are quickest of the rest,” he said.
“The race is long and we will see what we can do with strategy, but it’s good to be here.”
1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 36.338s
2. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 36.441s
3. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 1m 37.155s
4. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Sauber-Ferrari 1m 37.296s
5. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 37.345s
6. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 37.376s
7. Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes 1m 37.452s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Renault 1m 37.715s
9. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Renault 1m 37.836s
10. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 1m 38.034s
11. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 38.131s
12. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 1m 38.139s
13. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 38.217s*
14. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 38.364s
15. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 38.592s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 38.696s
17. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 39.250s
18. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault 1m 39.351s
19. Giedo van der Garde Holland Caterham-Renault 1m 40.491s
20. Charles Pic France Caterham-Renault 1m 40.528s
21. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Cosworth 1m 40.596s
22. Max Chilton Britain Marussia-Cosworth 1m 41.401s
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