Sebastian Vettel popped into F1’s cool-down room in Austin to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on his sixth title, a classy move by the Ferrari driver who paid tribute to a man who “deserves it all”.

Vettel retired early on from Sunday’s US Grand Prix, the victim of a suspension failure, but the German driver remained at the track to witness Hamilton’s coronation.

The two arch-rivals have fought each other hard in the past and have had the differences, even coming to blows at times, like in Baku in 2017.

But the epic battles have never eroded a mutual respect for each other’s outstanding achievements.

“I think now is the time for you to write as many good things as you can,” Vettel told the media in Austin, referring to Hamilton’s sixth title which puts the Mercedes start one championship short of the great Michael Schumacher.

“If somebody wins the title six times, he deserves all of it. That’s what I told him as well.”

Vettel’s only regret is that he hasn’t been more often this season in a position to give his rival a run for his money.

“Obviously I’m happy for him, I’m not happy that we are not in contention this year and we were so far back,” said the Ferrari stalwart.

“But you need to respect what he achieved the last years and also this year, together with his team how strong they have been.

“I’m happy for him but less happy for us.”

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