Vettel struggled throughout Q1 and Q2, struggling to make it into the top ten and the final qualifying session despite a last-ditch attempt to qualify on the soft tyre compound.
The struggles left Vettel down in twelfth after the session ended, adding to his list of troubles both throughout this weekend and last weekend's British Grand Prix.
Earlier in the weekend, Vettel suffered a power unit failure during FP2, leaving the four-time champion stranded on the circuit and his SF1000 leaking oil.
At last weekend's race, Vettel scored a single point in tenth, making up the position after a late-race puncture for Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. Vettel only managed to hang onto the point as a recovering Bottas charged at the Ferrari on the final lap.
Things did not go so well at the other side of the garage for teammate Charles Leclerc, with the young Monegasque qualifying in ninth position.
Speaking to reporters after the session, Vettel expressed his disappointment ar qualifying so low, stating that there were no improvements made compared to his poor form last weekend.
Despite his result, Vettel admitted he was happy overall with his laps and was hoping that his luck would change when the lights go out.
"I'm always optimistic, I try to reset myself for a better day tomorrow," Vettel said.
"I think since last week we were pretty much where we are now. We are not able to take a step forward. We tried lots of things and tried lots of things in the car.
"Looking at the positives, I was happy with my laps and it felt like everything works so, I had worse laps and finish a lot higher up so I was happy with that."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing