Sebastian Vettel recorded his best finish of the season by taking second place at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.
The reigning world champion, who has struggled to get the upper hand on team-mate Daniel Ricciardo this season, managed to hold off the Australian’s late charge at the end of the gruelling Asian night-race to take the second behind new championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel benefitted from Nico Rosberg’s clutch problem at the start, leaving him a clear sight of the first corner from fourth on the grid.
From there, he was comfortable in second place as Hamilton opened up a comfortable gap in front.
Vettel even led the race in the closing stages, when a safety car allowed him, and the chasing pack, to switch onto the harder compound Pirelli tyres, while leader Hamilton opted to stay out, meaning he’d need to stop late in the day.
When he did eventually pit, Vettel inherited the lead as Hamilton sandwiched himself behind the German and Ricciardo close behind.
But on newer rubber and with much more grip, Hamilton was able to breeze by to win comfortably.
Vettel, who had won the last three Singapore Grand Prix, was delighted to come second, his best result of the season.
“It’s a circuit I like here, the atmosphere‘s great and it’s a tough event.
“I had a good start and got past Daniel and had a decent race.
“We played a bit with strategy after we got undercut by Alonso, the safety car came at the worst time for us but we made the tyres work at the end which was tough.
“There was no point fighting Lewis at the end, he was on fresh tyres and I had to manage mine to the end as they were pretty old by then; that was the focus.
“It was nice to get the cold champagne on the podium!”
Ricciardo was leap-frogged by Fernando Alonso at the start, though the Ferrari driver went off the track at the first corner from the start to get the jump on both Red Bulls, eventually letting Vettel through to claim second.
The Australian jump Alonso at the first round of pit-stops, and after a swift stop under the safety car, was able to protect his tyres for the closing stages, hunting down his team-mate, but unable to make a move to claim second place.
“We weren’t quick enough in the first stint and we had a few other issues going on, with brakes and some power issues that were coming and going, but in terms of points we still got a good handful to take away from here.
“It actually feels a bit like a home race here. Singapore to Perth is like Melbourne to Perth, so for West Australians it’s not too far.”