Global Motorsport Media
Fernando Alonso has defended Sebastian Vettel amid reports the reigning world champion is "not a real racer".
As the Red Bull driver runs away with his second consecutive title in 2011, former Grand Prix winner David Coulthard observed in his latest Telegraph column that doubts remain about the 24-year-old German's quality.
"He (Vettel) continues to sweep all before him, and yet there are still those who question Seb's driving," wrote the Scot. "As if he is simply fortunate to have found himself in a Red Bull. As if he is an average racing driver because he wins races from pole."
Coulthard however thinks Vettel could go on to be F1's "best driver ever", and Alonso - Ferrari's lead driver and also a two-time champion - also rates the young German highly.
"I don't understand the criticisms about him, that he is not a real racer," Alonso told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport. "He is a great champion about to win his second title and has remarkable qualities; a lot of speed.
He is a great champion about to win his second title and has remarkable qualities; a lot of speed
"Yes he has the best car that gets a good place on the grid, but you need to be able to get the most out of it at every race and Sebastian does that very well.
"Even in difficult moments or when he makes a mistake, he is always fighting for the win. It is proof of his great qualities," added the Spaniard.
Alonso however also has great respect for Vettel's team, including the famous designer of the Red Bull car, Adrian Newey.
"They have played to the regulations better than us and the others and this year they have a great car," he said. "Adrian Newey is obviously the key person but behind him is a strong team.
"Ferrari attracts drivers but also technicians, so if Newey wants to come to us it would be a pleasure to drive his car," smiled Alonso.
The 30-year-old, meanwhile, has indicated he will keep on signing Ferrari contracts at least until he has added a third world championship to his resume.
"It's very important to me," Alonso admitted.
"I will not stop my career until I am champion with Ferrari. If it doesn't come by 2016 then I will stay in Formula One until 2021 -- for twenty years like Michael!"