Since 2014, Hamilton has caught and surpassed the previously dominant Vettel as Mercedes have ruled over F1 and the Briton has had the measure of team-mates Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas, save for the German's 2016 title win which prompted him to retire.
Hamilton will almost certainly wrap up his sixth world drivers' title in the United States GP this week, having beaten Vettel in Mexico last time out to move to the brink.
The Ferrari driver has fallen short in title battles with Hamilton in each of the last five years, but has no trouble with saluting Hamilton's success as deserved.
Vettel said: "I wouldn't say 'envy' because I appreciate his efforts, his performances, his success a lot - I think you have to because it's obvious. If not, then I don't know, it wouldn't be me and I think it would be in my world and values, whatever, it would be wrong.
"So I think he deserves it. Together with his team he's done a great job. Obviously, in a way you could say, I'm jealous because we wanted to be there and we are not. But [it's] not that I envy him.
"I think, you know, it's the name of the game. There can be one winner and one person finishing second, third and so on.
"So it's the nature of the sport and obviously he's occupied that space, which means that whoever else there's only second, third, fourth, fifth and so on left. So that's how it is.
"But there's no guarantee that it's going to be like this next year. So there's always hope looking forward."
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