Madrid: Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona won 4-0 at Levante to remain three points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga. (Agencies)
Messi's goals were both laid on by Andres Iniesta who also hit the target himself before supplying Cesc Fabregas for the fourth on Sunday.
The Argentine's brace means he now has 82 goals in 2012, just six short of German legend Gerd Mueller's all-time calendar record set in 1972. He also tops the La Liga charts for the season with 19 goals.
Atletico had earlier beaten Sevilla 4-0 to keep pace at the top and go eight points ahead of city rivals Real Madrid in third who had lost 1-0 at Betis on Saturday.
Barca's win increases their gap over Real Madrid to 11 points, but coach Tito Vilanova does not see the league as being won so early in the season.
"The league is not over, we're only a third through and Atletico are three points behind us. There is a lot to play for. We have been 11 ahead of Madrid before and we suffered a lot in the end," he said.
Barca had struggled in the first half and their cause was not helped by losing Dani Alves after only 13 minutes with what appeared to be a recurrence of a recent hamstring injury.
When his replacement Martin Montoya took the pitch it meant Barca's full side had also starred for the club at youth level.
Jose Maria Barkero had the best chance of the opening exchanges for Levante, drawing Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes into a save with a 12th-minute drive.
"We just did our thing. That's the way we do it and it works in our team," Vettel said.
"To do this, for all of us in the team it is unreal... also to win a third title here, where one of the greatest Ayrton (Senna) came from..."
"Christian came on the radio and told me the names of all the three-times champions and I cried."
Vettel became only the third driver in history to win three successive titles, equalling the feats of the great Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and childhood idol Michael Schumacher, who finished seventh for Mercedes in his final race before retiring.
Alonso's Ferrari team-mate, local hero Brazilian Felipe Massa, drove brilliantly to finish third ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
"We lost communication at the start but Sebastian stuck at it. He drove with determination," said Horner. "He just never gives up. After the first lap spin I thought that was it because we knew Fernando would be on the podium. But he got back to the top six, the rain came, we went to inter (tyres) and then slicks.
"It was maximum stress throughout the race, but Seb stayed cool. Fernando did a great job but he knew he was up against one of the best. What Seb achieved was incredible."
Hulkenberg played a prominent role in the race, not only leading for a spell but also crashing into Lewis Hamilton's McLaren to wreck the Briton's hopes of a triumphant conclusion to his career with the British team just when he looked sure of winning.
Madrid: Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona won 4-0 at Levante to remain three points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.