Sebastian Vettel rode a heartstopping rollercoaster of a Brazilian Grand Prix en route to becoming the youngest three-time Formula One world champion.
The race at Interlagos proved to be one of the most dramatic in the sport’s history as the destiny of the title swung one way and then the other between Red Bull star and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. The conditions over Sao Paulo played havoc, resulting in a catalogue of incidents, not least Vettel dropping to last place after the first few corners following a collision with Williams’ Bruno Senna.
But through drizzle, light rain, then heavy rain, multiple pit stops, it was Vettel who emerged the man, coming home sixth to finish three points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
The 31-year-old Spaniard could do no better than second behind race winner Jenson Button, his third victory of the season as McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out in his final race for the marque.
Alonso said: “I feel very proud of my team and of the season we have had. We have lost the championship now, but not here in Brazil, instead in some other other races (Belgium and Japan when he was involved in first corner accidents).
“When you do do something 100 per cent you have to happy and proud for the team, and we will try again next year.”
As for race winner Button, he said: “I want to congratulate the whole team.
“This is the perfect way to end the whole season, and it bodes well for 2013.”
Behind Alonso, team-mate Felipe Massa was third, followed by Webber and Hulkenberg ahead of Vettel, with Schumacher at least ending his six-race barren run - the worst of his 308-race career - with points for seventh.