Raikkonen admitted it was slightly disappointing not to snatch the pole from Hamilton but remains optimistic for the race.
Time waits for no man - or circuit - in the fast-moving world of Formula 1 and, with the Malaysian government deciding to pull its funding of the event, one of the standout racing venues on the calendar will disappear into the history books.
One of those title-defining memories came here previous year as Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure while leading the race.
Hamilton's win moved him 28 points clear and left the Brit in a commanding position heading into Sunday's race. The fireworks started early in Singapore with a controversial wreck at the start. Vettel was only fifth quickest in the morning, four-tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Both drivers blamed each other.
"To be honest I don't know if we're going to miss it", said Raikkonen.
Provided the drivers are able to avoid any early drama, it's set to be a close contest on Sunday, and the results could have a big impact on the championship at large.
Hamilton, who retired from a dominant lead with a blown engine in Malaysia past year which eventually cost him the title, capitalised on Vettel's misfortune to take victory in Singapore.
When he did re-emerge with 40 minutes of the session remaining his auto appeared still to be handling erratically, and his first timed lap was fully 1.4 seconds down on Vettel.
ESPN rounds up the main talking points from qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix after Sebastian Vettel's championship challenge suffered another major setback. Bottas sits a distant third in the point standings. Valtteri Bottas, however, is not confident if conditions are hot.
The only one silver lining to the back-row start is the opportunity to fit a new turbocharger without penalty (Vettel will start from the back regardless) but that's unlikely to lift the four-time champion's mood. It would also eliminate any leftover memories of his finish in Malaysia a year ago.
"If FIA do not say anything the race is good to go".
Ricciardo says Malaysia can be a bit of a bitch when it comes to tuning the vehicle right.
Want your voice heard? In 2013, Vettel famously ignored team orders and overtook Red Bull teammate and race leader Mark Webber before taking the checkered flag.
Finally, it is time to pick this week's underdog with the best chance at winning.
What happened last time out?