Vettel laid down an impressive benchmark in the final part of qualifying, with the German clocking a 1m10.776s to hit the top of the charts. He then improved by a further 0.012s to confirm pole – his fourth in seven races this season.
“Yesterday, we were in a bit of trouble,” said Vettel, whose Ferrari team are running an engine update this weekend in Montreal. “I wasn’t happy with the car, we had some problems, and I just couldn’t get the rhythm. It was very difficult but today I switched on.
“This morning, I went out and it felt better. It’s important you feel at home and you have the confidence to play around and I think you can extract a lot more from the car.
“Yesterday I wasn’t really in charge, more of a passenger. A bit compromised for pace. Today was a lot more natural.
“The car was incredible in qualifying, it just kept getting quicker. On my final lap, I had a small mistake. There was a little bit more, but I’m still happy.”
Vettel hasn’t won a race since round two in Bahrain, but the Ferrari driver – who is second to Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship – is hopeful of a strong result on Sunday.
“I was a lot happier with the car today and I think we can carry that into the race,” he said. “I think we start on the right tyre, but it’s a long race.
“This year, it’s been very close between the three cars. We’ll see. For sure if you start on pole you want to win.”
Rivals Red Bull have looked very strong so far this weekend in Montreal, with Verstappen topping the times in all three practice sessions.
The Dutchman ultimately ended qualifying third, but he and team mate Daniel Ricciardo will start on the hypersoft Pirelli tyres, while the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers will have the more durable ultrasofts.
Vettel believes Ferrari have made the right call with strategy, particularly as it means they are likely to be able to run longer before making their first stop, and admitted his surprise with the direction Red Bull took.
“For the strategy we did what we wanted to do,” he said. “I don’t think the hypersoft is a good race tyre. I’m a bit surprised both Red Bull’s chose that but I guess they have their own reasons."
Vettel trails Hamilton – a six-time winner in Canada – by 14 points in the drivers’ standings, but his title rival will start down in fourth, behind Verstappen but ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Ricciardo.