Alonso is 10 points behind Vettel with two races remaining. If Vettel wins Sunday's US Grand Prix he will win the title with it, unless the Ferrari driver finishes in the top four and takes it to the last race in Brazil next week.
Everything points to Vettel, the form driver, beating the doggedly consistent Alonso to a third successive title. But the Spaniard, sitting beside the German, said with a slow smile: "These last few races I have been more calm because I have fought for the championship now four times [winning twice, in 2005 and 2006].
"I am very confident. I trust my team and I trust myself. Qualifying is not our strong point. Our strong point is to score more than our rivals in the race, and I am confident we can do this in the next two races."
He said: "I'm much more relaxed and focused. In 2006 it went to the last race and I was fighting with Michael [Schumacher] in Brazil.
"It was a stressful, intense and difficult weekend and not easy to get focus or to sleep because it was very emotional.
"In 2007 , it was very stressful and it went to the last race. In 2008 [Hamilton's year], fighting for the world championship, Lewis, Kimi [Raikkonen] and me, it was another stressed weekend and not easy to do things.
"In 2010 [Vettel's first title] in Abu Dhabi, I was much more relaxed and things in the race weekend went quite good for us. The approach was much more calm, more mature, I felt, but the race was what it was and I didn't win it in the end but feeling-wise I was much more prepared."
Alonso is not even worried about the prospect of another average qualifying performance. "Our qualifying average is usually sixth or seven and if on Saturday we are sixth or seventh again, people will maybe say 'it's bye, bye to the title.' No. We were always there and we were leading the championship until a few races ago."
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton has repeated he has no regrets about leaving McLaren for Mercedes for next year: McLaren's team principal Martin Whitmarsh, asked recently whether he thought Hamilton regretted his decision, replied: "I think he has on occasions, yes."
But Hamilton said: "I was a little bit surprised to hear that. It's clearly, absolutely not the case. I've got a great team, I've been with them for such a long time, I am sure everyone will have emotions within the team, but I am still here still giving 100% to them for the last two races.
"Of course it's very emotional for me but I am very, very happy with the decision I have made."
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image: © Gregory Moine