Daniel Ricciardo believes that success in Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix may go to the man who can best preserve his tyres on the streets of Marina Bay.

The Australian looked good in Friday practice session, despite having to shoulder the burden of tyre testing when team-mate Sebastian Vettel was ruled out of all but the final seven minutes because of an engine failure, and ended the day with the third-fastest time, behind Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

"I think, looking at [the timesheets], it looks good, but I think they've got a bit more in the tank," he confirmed, "If they were able to get the best out of the car today, they would have been more like half a second in front. If the truth is three-tenths of a second, then that's a reachable gap and I'm fairly satisfied, but [challenging Mercedes] is a long shot and I think we should set our sights on the second row."

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While he conceded that the Mercedes, in particular, was likely to find time in final practice on Saturday evening, Ricciardo reckoned that looking after tyres in the race would be the deciding factor. The Red Bull driver all but matched Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in terms of longer-run pace on the supersoft tyres towards the end of FP2, but insisted that it wasn't the times that mattered most.

"I think the times are important, but its more about how long you can keep the tyres," he claimed, "I think there's going to be quite a few pit-stops during this race - it's not going to be one, but maybe two or three stops - and whoever looks after the tyres will make the difference.

"[The big delta between tyres] is going to make a big difference. To be quick on the tyre is one thing, but to make it last five more laps is another and that could save you doing an extra pit-stop. The supersoft is what everyone is going to qualifying on, but I think qualifying is going to be quite straightforward. In the race, it's whether you can manage the supersoft and make a two-stop work. That' going to be a big one as I think it's going to be close between two or three stops. I think it's going to be a real tyre fight in the race and perhaps it will throw a few curve balls."