Mark Webber had a lot of reasons to thank his tyres after a tough Singapore Grand Prix, but also admitted that he should have given his Red Bull Racing more credit when they suggested he pit for fresh rubber on lap four of 61.

With the safety car already on track following Vitantonio Liuzzi's early demise, the Australian followed the instruction to pit for the harder 'prime' Bridgestone, but confesses that he questioned the decision to stop at the point in one of the most physical rounds of the championship, knowing not only that it would drop him behind slower cars yet to stop, but could also leave him vulnerable to attack later in the race.

Webber returned from the fray in eleventh position, and quickly picked off Timo Glock, Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher even as his team told him that he was gunning for third-placed Lewis Hamilton. The points leader, however, admits that he was initially doubtful whether he would get the right conditions to close the gap sufficiently to overhaul his nearest championship rival.

"I questioned the team to start with, and they said 'it is the right thing, let's have a go'," he revealed, "We pitted and I thought 'oh, this is going to be a long stint on the primes'. We came back out and, when we queued up on the safety car, I thought 'okay, that's not too bad'. We were in a reasonable position. I passed a few guys and then I got to Rubens [Barrichello], who was driving very well. I couldn't clear him and, to be honest, I was surprised that I was even going to get as far as Lewis.

"I asked the team what the gap was to Jenson [Button] in front of Robert [Kubica]. I knew I would clear both Rubens and Robert because I could see them, but I couldn't see Jenson and I couldn't see Robert's pit-board to see how far Jenson was ahead of him, so I needed to get confirmation from the team. Then they said 'it's Lewis'...

"I was surprised I didn't lose as many positions [as I thought I might], so that was good. When I came back out, I had to clear a few guys. First of all, I followed Kobayashi, just for a few laps, and I thought 'my God, if he drives like that for two hours, it's going to be interesting' - he was really on the limit and missing all the walls and jumping kerbs.

"Michael was very good, fair, and I had a good battle with him. Rubens was driving well and clean - the Williams was not too bad in certain sections of the lap, so that made it difficult to get the move done on him. I thought 'God, I'm losing so much time behind these guys, the leaders will be pulling away for sure', but I saw a little bit on the big screen that Fernando [Alonso] had a bit of a gap and then it was Seb [Vettel] and then I saw Lewis on his own, so I thought 'yeah, that's probably the maximum I'm going to get'.

In the end, McLaren's own strategy helped play into Webber's hands, as both Hamilton and Button began losing time to the Australian before they stopped, and eventually rejoined behind the Red Bull. After a second safety car period allowed Hamilton to close back in, Webber survived a collision with the Briton as he tried to muscle back into third place, although damage to his right front wheel - the true extent of which wasn't revealed until after he had headed to the podium ceremony - caused a severe vibration that ensured Button remained a potential threat until the chequered flag.

"It turned into an incredibly strategic race for us, and the team did a great job keeping me informed, but, [after the collision], I had a pretty decent vibration in the front end of the car, [and was] very worried if the car would get home," the Australian admitted, "They were completely finished after 58 laps, there wasn't much left of them. It was just enough to keep the gap [to Button] nice."

After the trials and tribulations, Webber admitted that he was 'very happy with third place', a result that, with Alonso and Vettel finishing ahead of him and Hamilton not scoring, allowed him to extend his championship from five to eleven points.

"It has been a pretty difficult weekend here, to be honest, probably the toughest weekend of the year," he confessed, "In Monaco, it was the other way around - I felt incredibly comfortable. I didn't feel mega-comfortable here for most of the weekend, but I'm very, very happy with how the race went for me.

"There were parts where I had to stay composed and not panic - it is very easy to get worried about losing so much time behind the guys who are a bit slower so, yeah, getting out of bed this morning, I would have taken third. It is a pretty good podium although, of course, Fernando is still hanging in there, so I need to try and get rid of him somehow."

Post-race examinations of Webber's car, however, revealed just how lucky he had been to make the finish of the race, let alone the podium, for there was a sizeable gap between wheelrim and sidewall as a result of the contact with Hamilton.

"Mark showed the durability of the medium compound by completing almost all of the race distance on the same set of tyres, but not only did Mark's tyres continue to deliver strong performance, they also withstood the contact with Lewis," Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima confirmed, "The front right tyre sidewall was pushed out of alignment with the rim, yet it retained its inner pressure for the rest of the race. We can say that this tyre displayed true Japanese grit today."