Hamilton is likely to secure his sixth world championship this weekend at the United States Grand Prix, where he needs to finish eighth to move into outright second place in F1’s all-time list of title wins behind Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton has dominated F1 since the dawning of the V6 Hybrid era, taking over from Vettel, who had won the championship the previous four years with Red Bull.
Although the Briton’s achievements have their detractors, amid claims that the Mercedes cars, rather than Hamilton, have played the biggest role in his success.
Vettel says that Hamilton’s successes is different to that of drivers in different eras, but believes only Schumacher can be ranked above his rival.
“How can we think differently? For me it is very clear, he absolutely is [one of the best],” Vettel told Motorsport.com.
“He has been in this sport for a long time, and he is one of the most successful drivers. After Michael, I believe it is right to have his name, although obviously the judgements are personal.
“Formula 1 today has changed, there are many more races, and consequently you have the chance to win more than in the past, which is why I believe it is not correct to compare the achievements, to name names like [Alberto] Ascari or [Juan Manuel] Fangio.
“Every driver must be judged in his time and Lewis is undoubtedly a great professional who stood out among all the drivers of his generation.”