Sebastian Vettel recovered from the back of the pack to finish sixth in the 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 the German and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
The conditions wreaked havoc, resulting in a series of incidents, not least Vettel dropping to last place after the first few corners following a collision with Williams' Bruno Senna. Having to contend with drizzle, light rain, 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 team ahead of his move to Mercedes.
From fourth on the grid, Vettel was relatively slow away and through the famous Senna curves the German had already dropped to ninth. The danger was obvious and it soon materialised as he was clipped by Bruno Senna, sending him into a spin and facing the wrong way as the rest of the field streamed past him. Speaking of Ayrton Senna, this is the type of race he would have thrived in with the conditions ever-changing from bad to worse.
Vettel was fortunate none of those he could see approaching him ran into his car, allowing him to gain his composure and spin his way back on to the track, but some way behind the rest of the field. Vettel thought he would have to return to the pits, his voice appearing to crack with emotion, perhaps fearing his hopes of history were disappearing.
Sensationally, after six laps as carnage exploded all over the track given the greasy conditions with light rain falling, Vettel was back up to eighth.
Lewis Hamilton's McLaren career came to a sad end as he suffered a broken front-left suspension as Nico Hulkenberg slid into him into turn one as they came up behind backmarkers. Hulkenburg strayed onto the wet part of the track and lost control of his car and could do nothing to avoid the Brit’s car.
That allowed Button to take a lead he held on to through to the end, and whilst Alonso passed Massa for second, it was not enough given Vettel was seventh at the time, which soon became sixth when Michael Schumacher, driving in his last race, allowed him by with a few laps remaining.
At the end of lap 70 Force India's Paul di Resta spun in the heavy rain, crashing into a wall on the final turn, so bringing out the safety car for a second time and effectively ending the race as the cars passed the chequered flag in procession.