Sebastian Vettel's lust for a first F1 world title refused to be quelled by spending the entire Singapore Grand Prix staring at the rear wing of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, the German insisting that the points for second place were a good start in his late assault on top spot.

Having been denied pole by Alonso on Saturday evening, Vettel knew that he needed to make a good start if he was to have a chance of getting in front of the Spaniard on the twisting Marina Bay circuit but, despite making one of Red Bull's better getaways of late, he was rebuffed by an aggressive swerve from the polesitter, which forced him to settle for second. Although he subsequently insisted that he had pace in hand and was biding his time, Ferrari's decision to pit at the same time as the Red Bull left the German hoping for a slip-up from Alonso if he was to win.

The closing laps caused the Spaniard some headaches, especially as the leading pair caught traffic with Vettel closing in, but he eventually held on to triumph by just 0.2secs - the closest they had been since the start.

"Obviously, [the closing stages] was the only chance I had," Vettel admitted, "Unfortunately, in the beginning, I had to let him go a little bit and then, towards the end of the first stint, the soft tyres were pretty much at the end, so the car was sliding a lot. We came in at the same lap and, unfortunately, at the pit-stop, I had a little mistake, otherwise I think it would have been very close.

"That is the story of the whole race - I tried to push him as hard as I could into [making] a mistake, but he didn't do a major mistake and, as he said, it is difficult to overtake here. It would have been too risky so, in the end, we got away with second, good points."

Those points were enough to lift Vettel back above McLaren's Jenson Button, who finished fourth, and to within a point of Lewis Hamilton, who failed to score after clashing with the other Red Bull of Mark Webber. And, although Hamilton sits 20 points adrift of the overall lead, Vettel insists that his own championship chances remain undimmed with four races to go

"The most important thing is that the car is quick, [we were] competitive all weekend," he pointed out, "There was a bit missing yesterday and probably that was what I was missing today, but I had a very good start, so I think we've made good progress. In the end, it is good to get good points for the team, and the drivers' championship is still very much open.

"We have now got four races, and it is very tight. I think any of the five drivers at the top of the championship still have a very good chance. Things can change quickly - look at Fernando, people wrote him off for the championship twice already and he is back. You win one or two races in a row and you are back again. The most important thing is consistency and, as I said, I am confident as we have a very strong car and a good team.

"I think it's looking good. We are Red Bull, we are in a unique position again this year and we are horny - can you say that in English or does it not make too much sense? I think we have a very good chance. Korea is coming up which is unknown but, other than that, if you look at Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, I think we have a very strong car."