AUSTIN -- Fernando Alonso is happy with the notion of Lewis Hamilton being a four-time world champion like Sebastian Vettel as he feels the Mercedes driver deserves it more.
Hamilton stands on the brink of winning the 2017 title and can seal it on Sunday afternoon in Austin if results go the right way. In the ten seasons since Alonso wrapped up a second consecutive world championship in 2006, Hamilton and Vettel have won seven titles between them.
Two of Vettel's four came at Alonso's expense in tense finales at Abu Dhabi 2010 and Brazil 2012. Alonso has often suggested Vettel was the beneficiary of a dominant car during his spell of four straight title wins and has taken another subtle dig at the German's legacy in the build-up to the U.S. Grand Prix.
When asked if it hurt to not be involved in this year's championship fight, Alonso told Channel 4: "No, not really. You don't have any special feelings when you are not fighting.
"I think when I was fighting for the championship you see Sebastian winning, maybe it is hurting sometimes because maybe you feel that you deserve it more or you had this possibility here and there. When you are not in contention I think it is not big thing. It's not your battle.
"In a way I am happy that Lewis gets this fourth title. It's strange to see four Vettel and three for Hamilton, now there is much more logic."
As a follow-up, Alonso was then asked if he felt Hamilton was the better racing driver, to which he said: "I think Lewis has had a better racing career."
Alonso's recent career has followed the opposite path to Hamilton's. While his former McLaren teammate joined Mercedes in 2013, on the eve of its dominant spell with V6 turbos, Alonso left Ferrari in 2014 (having failed to win a championship in his five years at the team) before joining McLaren's doomed project with Honda.
Since 2010, only Red Bull or Mercedes have won either the drivers' or constructors' championship.