Vettel proved come rain or shine nothing can stop him this season as he grabbed the 45th pole position of his F1 career despite miserable wet conditions over Interlagos for Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.
The four-times world champion set a new mark with his victory in the United States Grand Prix in Austin last Sunday as it was his eighth in a row in one season.
Now Vettel can equal Alberto Ascari's 60-year-old all-time record of nine successive wins, set at the back end of 1952 and start of 1953, as well as match Michael Schumacher's 2004 haul of 13 wins for one campaign.
Despite the rain that barely relented throughout qualifying, which led to a 40-minute gap between sessions two and three as there was too much water on the track, Vettel was again a cut above.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg starts second on the grid, but he finished six tenths of a second behind Vettel, such was the latter's superiority.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso lines up third and has had to wait since April's race in Bahrain for such a position - matching his best of the year - but the Spaniard was still 1.1secs down.
Even Vettel was shocked by the gaps as he said: "It's a big surprise.
"But it's great in these conditions to get it all right as we've had very little practice, but we still got the car where we wanted it to be in the end."
Vettel's only slip was on the radio post-qualifying when he tried to express his joy, but used the wrong language.
"When I was told (about clinching pole) I was very happy," added Vettel.
"I even mixed up Spanish and Portuguese saying 'Ole! Ole!', which is obviously Spanish.
"I don't know the expression in Portuguese. Maybe someone can tell me. Hopefully I'll have another chance tomorrow."
Following a qualifying he described as "extremely tough", Rosberg was left stunned by his margin to Vettel.
Rosberg said: "That's a very big deficit. It would have been difficult to have got close even with everything perfect.
"But the front row is a good place to start the final race of the year.
"Maybe in the wet I'll have a little bit of a better chance against Sebastian, but it will be hard either way."
There is rain forecast for Sao Paulo on Sunday, although when it will fall and, if it does, whether it will impact on the race is another matter.
Alonso, like Rosberg, would prefer mixed conditions to give him the opportunity of beating Vettel, but even then he concedes it will be "very difficult".
"We need to be realistic, so it is no good telling our fans we have a chance to win the race when it is not true," said Alonso.
"In the last five or six events we've had zero chance of winning the race, but for this one we have a small chance - very small."
For what will be his 215th and final grands prix before switching to Porsche's sportscar programme for next year, Mark Webber will line up fourth in his Red Bull, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton fifth.
Hamilton conceded after practice on Friday he would have "no hope" in the wet given his struggles with the Mercedes in such conditions.
After qualifying, Hamilton said: "That's kind of where I thought I would be.
"I did my best out there but I'm struggling. When I was at McLaren I knew the car.
"I was there for a long, long time and it suited me easier than the one I'm driving right now. I've just got to do some more work."
The only incident saw Sergio Perez spin his McLaren into a wall on his final attempt in Q2 at a time when the rain was becoming heavy.
A small crumb of comfort for Perez is he starts ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, with the Mexican out-qualifying the Briton 10-9 over his one year with the team after being axed last week.
Paul Di Resta starts 12th for Force India, with Max Chilton in his Marussia 22nd.