Vettel trailed Leclerc by 0.425s in the final qualifying segment at the Sochi Autodrom, and was bumped off the front row by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
The session has marked the ninth consecutive time that four-time champion Vettel has qualified behind his sophomore F1 racer teammate – and while there have been mitigating circumstances like mechanical issues or the Monza Q3 chaos, the streak has also featured some very comprehensive defeats.
“Obviously in qualy here and there we didn’t have the best sessions on my side,” Vettel said when asked what Leclerc has been doing better than him in qualifying as of late.
“I think obviously today Charles was faster, so it’s pretty easy to see where he’s faster, but it’s a little bit here and there.
“I don’t think there’s any pattern standing out saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corners. As I said, obviously the last couple of races was closer than maybe it looked on the result, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
“Usually come race day I’m getting more and more confident in the car, and pace has never been a problem in the race.”
Vettel was “quite happy in general” with how his car felt in Russian GP qualifying, although said his messy opening segment – in which he struggled to set a competitive initial time on the mediums – was a factor.
“I thought by the time we got to Q3 it was fine,” he stressed. “I think overall I was pretty happy with the car – I just felt as if there was more in the car that I couldn’t get to.”
Leclerc’s Sochi pole has marked the first time a Ferrari driver has scored four consecutive F1 pole positions since seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in 2001.
The Monegasque acknowledged the milestone “felt great”, but stressed that “I don’t want to think about these things”.
Asked by Motorsport.com whether his current qualifying streak has left him feeling untouchable over one lap, he said: “Of course I felt confident going in qualifying, but at one point it’s going to end, whether it’s now or later.
“The only thing I’m trying to do is to focus on myself, try to have the same procedure as I’ve had since the last four races. I definitely don’t come in the car thinking that it will be easy and that it will come together alone.”