Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates on the podium after he placed second in the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring racetrack in Hockenheim, Germany on Sunday. Photo: Jens Meyer/AP

HOCKENHEIM  Sebastian Vettel could have been forgiven for being miserable ahead of his home German Grand Prix, but he ended it with a huge smile after one of the drives of his career rocketed the Ferrari driver up to second from last.

Ferrari's much-hyped Formula One season has failed to produce a win at the halfway stage and a string of mishaps reached their nadir on Saturday when a power failure meant Vettel never set a time in qualifying and had to start from the back of the grid.

But the four-times world champion showed why he remains one of the best drivers in the sport despite his recent woes by perfectly navigating a wet track at Hockenheim when all around him were spinning off.

"It was a long race, at some stage it felt never ending. It was very fun, it was tough with the conditions and tough to read what was the smartest move," Vettel said.

"I'm just happy. I think before the last safety car I realised I was quite a bit faster, and I had some good moves on the back straight. It was about getting the next car, and the next car, and the next car."

Vettel is fourth in the driver standings, 82 adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton who failed to get into the points having finished 11th in his Mercedes.

The Briton clipped a wall as he struggled in the wet when seemingly poised for victory.

Vettel in contrast was again the master in the rain, as he was when winning his shock maiden grand prix in Italy back in 2008.