Sebastian Vettel deserves title say Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso

By Andrew BensonBBC Sport in Singapore

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has paid tribute to his rival Sebastian Vettel, saying the Red Bull driver deserves to win the world title this season.

Vettel can be crowned this Sunday if he wins and Alonso is lower than third with McLaren's Jenson Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber lower than second.

Alonso said: "He's been the best driver, (with) the best team. They deserve to be where they are."

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton added Vettel had been "exceptional this year".

Vettel said he was going to treat the Singapore weekend like any other race.

"So far we haven't won anything," the German said. "(There is) still some way to go, we have to race and do our best.

"It is a long way to the chequered flag. Certain things have to happen, and it reminds me a little bit of the situation we had in Abu Dhabi last year when people came up and gave me another option every five minutes.

"The target is to optimise our performance. The target has been to defend our title, there is no reason why the target should change."

And Vettel denied he felt under any extra pressure this weekend because of the championship being so close.

"There is always pressure on us because we want to achieve our best every weekend, and if there is a chance to win we want to go for it," the 24-year-old said.

"I don't feel any extra pressure trying to win the championship here or any one particular place.

"The target going into the season was not to win the championship by Singapore or any other race it was to win the championship. This race is as as important as anywhere else."

Vettel has won eight of the 13 races so far and has taken 10 pole positions. He leads the championship from Alonso by 112 points, with only 150 still available.

The two also finished first and second in the championship last year, when Vettel snatched the title from Alonso at the last race in Abu Dhabi after a catastrophic strategy error by Ferrari left the Spaniard stranded down the field.

Alonso said: "This year, he has made no mistakes or very few mistakes. Last year we had a little bit more chances.

"Red Bull were also very dominant last year, but they had some trouble in some races. I remember in Turkey they crashed together, and in some other races they had mechanical failure, engine problems, etc.

"This year they improve these problems. The car is still as quick as last year but they finish all the races. He is the only one to finish all the races. Plus he is driving very, very well.

"When you have a dominant car it is easy to do a pole and win a race, but there have been occasions when the conditions were very tricky and he managed to put the car on pole and drove a perfect race from start to the end."

Hamilton added: "He has really driven very, very well. He has finished first and second in all the races apart from one, massively consistent, massively controlled, his persona, his attitude has been very professional.

"He has made very few mistakes, and even the two small mistakes he has made have not been very costly. I take my hat off to him."

Alonso and Vettel battled for the lead in the early stages of the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, when the Red Bull driver put two wheels on the grass while passing Alonso at 200mph after the Ferrari driver 'squeezed' him to the outside of the track.

The two men discussed it before going out onto the podium after the race.

It was reported that Vettel asked the stewards to look at Alonso's driving, but he denied that and said there was no problem between them.

"He didn't expect me to go on the left, to try the inside for the second chicane, so initially he didn't see me," Vettel said, "but as soon as he saw me, he pulled to the right and gave me enough room.

"It was borderline but I knew if I wanted to get past I needed to try something.

"Actually, it was more critical the lap before when I was on the right on the outside at the second chicane and he moved a little bit under braking to the right and there wasn't much room for me, we talked about it after the race and I think it's fine.

"Generally, if you race people like Fernando, people with a lot of experience and who you respect a lot, you can really push the limits and really go wheel to wheel without thinking about it, and know the guy will know you are there and give you just enough room - not a lot, but enough."