Red Bull’s Vettel took the chequered flag in one hour, 36 minutes and 28 seconds, ahead of team-mate Mark Webber and with Alonso completing the podium.
A mechanical fault saw Hamilton drop back to a disappointing 10th place finish – having started third on the grid – leaving him 62 points behind Vettel in the championship.
“In terms of winning, I think that’s it for us,” a dejected Hamilton said after the race. “We were still in the fight up until now but it’s too far away. We’ll keep fighting in the constructors’ [championship].”
An anti-roll bar failure hampered Hamilton yesterday, while fellow McLaren driver Jenson Button retired in lap one after Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi crashed into him and punctured his front right tyre.
“What an idiot,” an irate Button complained down the team radio. After the race, Button – now 84 points behind Vettel – confessed that he too is out of the title race. “I no longer have a realistic chance to win the world championship, so I’ll be enjoying myself over the final four races,” he said.
Red Bull are riding high after Vettel recorded his third straight win. The German overtook Webber on the first bend and never looked back, as he chases his third consecutive F1 title.
Hamilton lost an early position to Alonso and on lap 21, with his car struggling, he succumbed to the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa before sliding further down the ranks.
■ Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 215 points
■ Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 209
■ Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 167
■ Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 153
■ Mark Webber (Red Bull) 152
■ Jenson Button (McLaren) 131