Vettel, who was third on the grid behind the two Mercedes, got away cleanly. However, puffs of smoke began to appear from the rear of his car partway round the lap.
Those puffs quickly turned to a huge plume and the German was forced to park his machine between Turns 13 and 14.
It is the first DNS (did not start) of Vettel’s Formula One career.
Renault's Jolyon Palmer, 19th on the grid, also failed to take the start after pulling into the pits at the end of the formation lap with technical problems.
Follow the race live here.
WATCH: Disaster for Vettel before the race start in Bahrain
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