SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore seems to bring the best out of Sebastian Vettel and although the German was unable to secure a fourth straight victory in Formula One's only night race on Sunday, his second place was the best result of an otherwise forgettable campaign.
Red Bull have been out-performed by Mercedes this season and Lewis Hamilton drove home that point by easing to victory at the Marina Bay Street Circuit but Vettel held off team mate Daniel Ricciardo to claim just a third podium of the season.
"It's a circuit that I really enjoy, I really like. The atmosphere is great. It's a tough one and again we went to the full two hours," Vettel said in a podium interview after the race ended one short of the scheduled 61 laps due to an extended safety car period.
"I had a good start, got past Daniel and then I think we had a decent race." added the German, who had started fourth on the grid but benefited from the early retirement of Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes.
"We played a little bit with strategy and then the safety car came at the worst possible moment for us. So we tried to obviously stay out with the last set of tyres and make them work, which was very, very much borderline.
"I had a lot of pressure from Daniel and also from Fernando (Alonso) behind, but very happy obviously to make it P2."
Debris on the narrow track kept the safety car out for seven laps midway through the race and with the three cars behind Hamilton all opting to run to the finish, Vettel led with eight laps remaining but knew he would be unable to hold on for an unlikely win when the Briton changed for fresher tyres.
"I wasn't very confident that we could make it to the finish, simply because of the wear we had the sets before," Vettel added.
"Obviously for one lap I was in the lead but I wasn't quite sure why Lewis was so aggressive when he overtook. I thought that I give him all the space to pass me on the inside for the next corner but it seemed like he couldn't wait to get back in the lead," he said. "It was quite tight but I saw him, obviously, so I had to back off and let him through. There was no point fighting him at that stage because I didn't have the tyres to match him."
Ricciardo continues to impress in his first season at Red Bull and his third place was the latest strong performance in a campaign that has already garnered a surprising three race victories for the Perth-born Australian.
"It sort of feels like a home race," Ricciardo said. "Singapore to Perth is pretty much as close as Melbourne to Perth, so for west Australia it's like another home race. To get on the podium I guess is not a bad result, good for the team and at least we've got some Aussie flags."