Leclerc took pole for the second race in a row, although he did so almost by default as only the Monegasque and Carlos Sainz made it past the line to start a lap at the end of Q3 as the field jostled to avoid going out without a tow.
Vettel had towed Leclerc in the first run of Q3, helping the 21-year-old take provisional pole, but amid the chaos roles were not reversed later in the session, much to Vettel's frustration.
"I was trying to get through, but there was a McLaren and a Renault blocking the road," Vettel told Sky Sports.
"I'm not happy with how it went, obviously. We didn't make it to get the second attempt like many others, but I thought internally we had a better way that we communicated this.
"I was the one out front alone in the first run and I shouldn't have been the one in front in the second run.
"Because of the last corner I wasn't but at that point it was too close anyways, plus the session was over so I couldn't even make it to start a lap.
"I can't be happy with that, it's not what we intended to do.
"He [Leclerc] should've been ahead all the way so… anyways happy with the car, the qualifying was good, the car was very, very good.
"I had a really good lap, I just had no tow so that's the difference between pole and not pole today."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.