Mark Webber said his stunning race in Shanghai, where he converted a start position of 18th to a third place finish, was "very good for the team".
The Australian's miserable qualifying for the Chinese GP was compounded by not having the Kers power-boost system available to him during the race.
But he put all that behind him to surge through the field in thrilling fashion.
He said: "I had to pass everybody, I really earned it. The car put up such a fight and the guys never gave up."
Webber's one trump card was that he had two fresh sets of soft tyres in the bag after a tactical decision to start with the slower prime tyre.
The Australian, fourth in the overall standings but only one point behind McLaren's Jenson Button, said: "To still see position 17 after 15 laps you think it might not happen, but suddenly I felt very comfortable with the car.
"I think the team has done an incredible job - it was a back-to-back race and we haven't had the smoothest run with my car, but we haven't given up."
Webber said the 2011 season was about learning and adapting to the changed conditions of F1 racing.
"We are still learning every GP about the tyres, and how DRS [the drag reduction system] will work. The fans are trying to understand it and so are we.
"The first stint was extremely difficult because of the prime tyre I was on while everyone else was on softs which gave them a big advantage.
"I did my best getting past one or two, after that we just got our heads down and I never gave up. I got past Fernando [Alonso] and I made sure the guys ahead of him were going to be mine too. I just said to myself 'Be mine, be mine'.
"I'm still not a huge fan of how it is; sometimes the overtakes are not all that genuine because the guys don't have anything to fight back with."
Red Bull have encountered significant problems with Kers. Webber was unable to use the system either in qualifying or on race day, while it functioned only patchily for Vettel.
Webber said: "It's a key component in Formula 1 these days so it's completely obvious that we want to address it as soon as possible.
"McLaren have a huge amount of experience and they are doing a good job on it. It means that we need to work harder and as cleverly and fast as we can. Now we have a bit of a break and this will be a clear focus for us in terms of durability, consistency and understanding the system.
"It's not only a performance thing but it is also incredibly disrupting in the garage. My car was built about four times this weekend and it is so much harder to the guys. It's not easy.
"We have awesome guys on the case and that is the way it is with the limited experience we have. Let's get to Turkey and work hard on it."