The German qualified and finished 10th at the Marina Bay Circuit last year, but the three drivers that qualified directly behind him all finished ahead thanks to the ability to run a longer opening stint.
Anticipating a similar scenario this time around, Hulkenberg said he wanted to secure a spot outside the top 10, but he was four hundredths clear of Sergio Perez in 10th place at the end of Q2.
He told Sky Sports: "To be honest I was kind of trying to engineer 11th place in Q2, but nobody wanted to go faster, so that was a bit of a shame to be honest!
"I think that strategy could hold a lot of advantage tomorrow.
"The good news for us, is that McLaren, our main competitor, are on the same strategy. But, I've been on that boat last year and I had to start on the soft, it was pretty difficult.
"The others had a much easier race."
Qualifying behind Ricciardo secured a season defeat in Saturday results for just the second time in Hulkenberg's career. The last time he did so was in his rookie year with Rubens Barrichello as his Williams team-mate.
It perhaps comes at an inopportune time for Hulkenberg, with his future in F1 highly uncertain after Renault confirmed Esteban Ocon will replace him in 2020 and Haas opted to stick with Romain Grosjean rather than sign him.
"To be honest, I think I'm working like ever, doing my job, trying to find my maximum performance, driving as fast as I can," Hulkenberg said.
"We all know how quick Daniel is, so he is a tough team-mate, that's for sure. The whole future question, I'm pretty relaxed, and I'm not just saying that.
"Whatever the outcome, it is what it is. I will move on. Life will move on. There is still a chance, but it's probably not in my hands anymore, not in my control."
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