Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever triple champion, after sealing the drivers' championship title with a sixth-place finish in a dramatic finale to the Formula One season in the Brazilian GP.
Changing weather played a big part in making the race unpredictable, but Vettel, after a disastrous first lap where he was spun out, brought all his talents and the speed of his car to good use to win the title by three points from an unlucky Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari driver finished second in the race, to fall agonizingly short of what would have been his own third F1 title. Jenson Button of McLaren won the final race of the season, after his teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed out thanks to a mistake from an overzealous Nico Hulkenberg, with hometown favorite Felipe Massa coming in third.
Michael Schumacher, in his final race before calling it a day, finished seventh, just behind his fellow German Vettel.
"It was an unbelievable afternoon," an ecstatic Vettel said. "I think providence couldn't have made it more difficult for us than it actually was. If I think back, the start was not bad but then Mark (Webber) pushed me towards the left side so I had to brake very early and lost positions, which didn't put me in the best position for turn four when suddenly I was hit from behind.
"I was then unexpectedly facing traffic coming towards me which was not exactly an ideal position. I turned the car around and noticed that there wasn't too much damage -- the front wing was still there -- and I then realised that it was possible to start the catch-up.
"When it got dry it got more difficult, as there was damage on the car and I couldn't overtake on the straight. I think in that phase Ferrari did their best to use Felipe Massa and I think during these laps there were a lot of obstacles put in our way.
"But that didn't distract us and when the rain set in towards the end we were able to gain again. I think the pit stop was terribly misplaced -- but obviously we were doomed. But all the time we believed in it, even when the traffic was coming towards me at the start. I am still overwhelmed and it's hard to find the words for what happened today."
Asked how he would celebrate the win, Vettel said he would leave that for his team to plan. "Believe me, Red Bull knows what to do in such a situation," the 25-year-old added.
Alonso, who the majority of the drivers as well as the fans felt deserved the championship, was understandably disappointed, but proud of his achievements in a car which was well off the pace of the Red Bull as well as the McLaren for the majority of the season.
"Well, first of all I feel very proud of my team, very proud of the season we did," Alonso said. "Obviously we lost the championship now, but I don't think, as you said, that we lost here in Brazil, we lost in some races where we were a little bit unlucky.
"But this is a sport, but when you do something with your heart, when you do something with 100 percent, you have to be proud of your team, happy for them, and we will try next year."
Drivers' championship: Final standings: 1. Sebastian Vettel (281 points); 2. Fernando Alonso (278); 3. Kimi Raikkonen (207).