Vettel's downcast demeanour in contrast reflected a Ferrari squad who were left wanting.
Fortunately Kimi Raikkonen was there and firing to set the pace.
However, Vettel did seem impressed with Mercedes. As ever, his comments to the media after second practice in Singapore were calm and collected.
"Ready to go for the rest of the weekend and I think tomorrow is going to be very close. I have prepared well and the team has brought a pretty good vehicle here", Ricciardo said. But the team had a great strategy and we could get back into second and basically did our own race. But for sure the worst one was Germany.
The team principal, Toto Wolff, called it he best he had seen and with track position on the narrow street circuit paramount it was crucial.
"Obviously Red Bull are an unknown now with Honda, but still the odds are with Ferrari and Mercedes".
Hamilton's time was three-and-a-half seconds quicker than Vettel's pole position from a year ago and should he make a clean start on a circuit where he has won three times before, the Briton is highly likely to extend his championship lead.
Vettel is aware of his advantage, and on Thursday made a statement that could be construed as either subtle confidence or lingering self-doubt. But a personal feeling, taking lap times out, we were more comfortable on the hotter track, which is a bit weird.
Moments later, Vettel passed Verstappen with a great move on Raffles boulevard while behind them Sergio Perez knocked his Force India teammate Esteban Ocon into the wall and out - bringing a safety vehicle onto the track for four laps.
"I don't think we really had traffic on the fast laps but obviously we did on the out laps".
"Other people did a better job", a despondent Vettel said, appearing to question his team's decision-making. "I think we have a good vehicle so let's see".
Meanwhile, Hamilton has barely put a wheel off line this season.
Vettel's championship bid crumbled when he crashed from pole here previous year and went on to lose the title by 46 points to Hamilton. And Hamilton's consistency puts an even brighter spotlight on Vettel. Could this be the qualifying session that ultimately seals the championship for the Mercedes driver?
Maurizio Arrivabene: "Today's victor deserved the victory".
It took until Lap 13 for Hamilton to pick up the pace, opening a three-second gap on the field.
"I'm not entirely happy", he added.
"If in Monza I was pointing my finger at Sebastian, think about a problem on aero, a problem on the pit stop, a problem on the engine".
"Max had an opportunity to pass me into Turn 10". "The team have just never given up faith and belief in me". Not the responsibility of Sebastian or the engineer or the responsibility of the mechanics. "You still need luck with Safety Cars but as always I will do my best".
But words will only go so far.
Hamilton controlled the restart four laps later to sprint away more than a second clear of Vettel. Yet given Ferrari's form in Singapore it was still a win against the odds.