Hamilton was clocked at 1 minute, 29.398 seconds and claimed his second-consecutive pole and third of the Formula One season.
Vettel turned in a 1:29.501, followed by Mark Webber.
Tire selection for the German Grand Prix leaned toward soft tires due to the sultry conditions in Nurburgring Saturday. Analysts expected most teams to start on soft tires Sunday but switch to quicker medium tires in the later stages of the 60-lap race.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]
Julius Randle breaks leg during NBA debut