He has won four of the six races in 2019 and Lewis Hamilton believes Formula One is not physically challenging enough for the drivers. He and Ferrari badly need to begin hauling the two Mercedes drivers back, and if Vettel can take his first win since the Belgian Grand Prix a year ago it will just keep their title hopes alive.
Although Vettel was five-one up in qualifying, the underlying pace was that when the Ferrari as a vehicle was competitive, it was Leclerc who looked the faster driver.
They had more to cheer about as Charles Leclerc placed third in the other Ferrari, 0.474 seconds behind Hamilton, in his first appearance with the Italian team on Île Notre-Dame.
"I made a mistake in FP2 and damaged the auto", Hamilton said of his encounter with the wall during the second practice.
"There are some ideas to improve where we're and they sound quite promising so I am optimistic but the real proof, the only proof, is the stop watch".
"The difference", said Hamilton, "will be looking after the tyres and seeing how close we can hold on and hanging in there until we can start pushing and try to race". For Hamilton that future includes more diversity. Saturday's result is exactly what was needed at this Grand Prix and those to come.
Six races into the season, Vettel is not ready to wave the white flag and concede the title to Mercedes, which has racked up six straight wins, five of them with 1-2 finishes.
Here, Hamilton, who is also bidding to emulate Schumacher with a record-equalling seventh win in Montreal, has been boosted by a new engine.
Normandy landings: Photos from D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
He said the words in English, and World War II veterans gathered with him at the Normandy American Cemetery stood in applause. May said in a message to mark the event: "The Normandy landings 75 years ago were a moment of historic global cooperation".
As strong as Ferrari are in a straight line and as dominant as they were in Bahrain, Mercedes have not been standing still and will be hard to overcome. "This is good. This is how racing should be". Good result today but we want to confirm it tomorrow.
Still, it's good to see a sign of life from the scuderia, and not a minute too soon.
He faces an investigation after the session for rejoining the track at Turn 8/9 after driving on the wrong side of the marker bollard earlier in qualifying.
It was the 56th pole position of Vettel's career and came after Kevin Magnussen had crashed into the "wall of champions" in his Haas auto at the end of Q2.
"It's very bumpy, very rough". I think just over a tenth from third. Verstappen finished fifth in 1:11.842 while Gasly was sixth at 1:11.914.
There was bad news, though, for Lance Stroll, as the Montreal native failed to advance from Q1 for the 11th time since last season.
Although the 20-year-old was pushed back to the garage by his mechanics, the issue was not fixable in time to allow him to rejoin the track before the conclusion of the session. The back of Stroll's Racing Point vehicle erupted in flames and smoke due to a hydraulic fluid leak. The race is on Sunday.
"I feel so very, very happy for the team", Vettel said. "Without these problems, I'm sure I could have gone further in qualifying. I will analyse it and hopefully come back stronger in the next race". I didn't know who was coming behind and then they screamed, 'Pole position!' It was just pure joy, mixed with adrenaline.