Vettel went into the 2018 campaign with plenty of optimism that he could overcome Hamilton and go level with Juan Manuel Fangio on five World Drivers’ Championships.
And, for the first half of the season, his Ferrari driver successfully went wheel-to-wheel with the Mercedes man as the duo traded race wins.
However, Sebastian Vettel’s title bid fell apart after the traditional summer break with Hamilton pulling away at the top of the standings.
The 31-year-old’s collapse has led to claims other drivers would have offered more of a challenge to Hamilton when it came to the run-in.
And two-time champion Fernando Alonso is among those who it has been suggested would have stopped the Brit equalling Fangio’s achievements.
Alonso, though, has shied away from nailing his colours to the mast on the matter and instead opted to hail Vettel’s efforts.
‘This too is difficult to say,” Alonso told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, when asked if he would have won the 2018 championship in Vettel’s Ferrari.
“Who is ahead, fighting to win and always has everything to lose. And everyone is wrong.
“Perhaps he lost important points but also Hamilton lost them and Vettel did much better than [Kimi] Raikkonen, he fought until the end, he is a champion.
“When he won four World titles everyone spoke of him as a phenomenon and now the same happens with Hamilton.
“The truth is that when there is a lot of attention on you, it always gets difficult.”
Alonso brought the curtain down on his F1 career last year having endured a dismal second stint at McLaren.
Motorsport expert Tony Jardine believes the Spaniard will have an array of regrets, despite winning two World Drivers’ Championships.
“It will always, always be in his mind because he’ll be looking at Formula 1, and he’s still at the top of his game, that’s the sad thing, and he’ll be thinking: ‘I could have beaten him, I could have beaten him’,” Jardine exclusively told Express Sport, when asked if Alonso will rue hid decision to retire from F1.
“But he just needed a decent car, but wrong place, wrong time, wrong managerial decisions.
“Those decisions go back to when he’s in a plumb drive at McLaren.
“He throws his toys out of the pram in 2007 because he thinks Hamilton is getting the better treatment and he decides to leave.
“That’s him and his manager, [Flavio] Briatore, and he goes back to Renault.
“Renault were already on a downward slope, so he spent two years in the back water then. What a curious, stupid decision.
“Okay, gets into Ferrari, nearly, nearly [wins] but all those years of being the bridesmaid are very frustrating.
“He showed his incredible talent because the Ferrari wasn’t a great car but yeah, he could win with it.
“And he is lost to Formula 1. It’s sad that we don’t still have him and he’s just going to be a journeyman doing a bit of sports cars, Indy 500, whatever he fancies.”