Starting his final Formula 1 race from P9 at Yas Marina Circuit, Vettel was looking very competitive in the early stages behind the wheel of the AMR22, putting intense pressure on the Alpine of Esteban Ocon ahead.
Vettel had a couple of looks into Turn 9, but there was no way through. Vettel then was left on the defensive as drivers pitted around him while Aston Martin kept him out as they committed to the one-stop strategy, Vettel asking "who's next" by the time Lando Norris came back past him in the McLaren.
That ultimately proved to be the wrong call, Vettel running P11 in the closing stages, which became P10 when Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire.
With five points the difference between Aston Martin in P7 and Alfa Romeo in P6 in the Constructors' standings, Vettel harried McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages, knowing that a pass would swing the position Aston Martin's way with Stroll running P8.
The overtake did not happen, meaning Aston Martin would be forced to settle for a P7 finish.
This could have been upgraded though, in Vettel's opinion, if Aston Martin had have answered his calls to avoid the one-stop.
"We were going backwards," Vettel told media personnel including PlanetF1. "I was really trying, I gave it all I could.
"It would have been great for the team to get the sixth in the Constructors' Championship, but we sort of threw that away with the strategy we chose."
Both Stroll and Vettel cleared Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu as they pushed back up the order, Vettel saying that the Chinese racer put up a very stern fight as the Swiss outfit looked to cling on to their Constructors' position.
Vettel then was particularly frustrated to have been held up by Ocon, all while Fernando Alonso took is easy behind in that early tussle, as Vettel felt that he was keeping his tyres in better shape than Ocon's before Aston Martin went too long with the one-stopper.
"I could feel that a little bit with Fernando, he was very, very generous at the beginning of the race," Vettel reflected.
"After that the Saubers [Alfa Romeo] fought very, very hard because they wanted to defend the Constructors'. So, it was a shame I was stuck behind Esteban [Ocon] in the beginning, because I felt I had better deg, but then we stayed out way too long and lost so much time."