His team mate Lewis Hamilton has his work cut out to fight back from 14th on the grid after suffering a hydraulic issue during Saturday's qualifying session. The four-time World Champion knows he can beat his aging teammate and does so with unbelievable regularity.
Valtteri Bottas (right) is said to enjoy a good working relationship with Lewis Hamilton.
"It [the car] just kept getting better and better, and I knew on the last lap I knew had a bit extra in me, and I was able to squeeze everything out".
It means Vettel, who will lined up alongside Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, looks likely to leave Germany having extended his eight-point lead over the reigning champion but he was in little mood to celebrate his rival's misfortune afterwards.
Bottas had briefly held the provisional pole before Vettel's final effort secured the German a 55th career top starting slot. He has finished second four times and is fifth overall, 59 points behind Hamilton and 67 adrift of Vettel.
The Briton tried in vain to push the stricken vehicle back to the pits, with the help of some marshals, before then crouching in some distress next to it after it had been wheeled off.
"I felt in Q1 that the vehicle could do it and sometimes you just know", he said in a post-session interview on track. So I jumped out and I was trying to push it back, but there was so far to go.
"I'll give everything tomorrow to see how high I can get up, but its not going to be like Silverstone". That's just me being passionate. Hamilton felt the problem was evident before then, however. "We shouldn't have a double DNF in Austria, where we were running solid 1-2", Wolff said. I think we improved it for today.
"I thought I'd had a tyre failure or a track-rod failure or something like that, but that wasn't the case, it was the hydraulics which then forced me to take that exit road".
Hamilton's boss and team principal Toto Wolff added: "We have been aligned with Lewis ever since we first sat down to discuss the details of this contract after last season, but there has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it's good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced".
Another home hope, Nico Hulkenberg, was seventh ahead of his Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz, rising Monegasque star Charles Leclerc of Sauber and Sergio Perez of Force India.