Vettel storms to record-equalling ninth-straight win in Brazil
Sebastian Vettel made it an all-time record-equalling ninth straight victory as he took the chequered flag at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
The four-times world champion has won every single race since Formula One's summer break in August, matching a 60-year-old feat set by Alberto Ascari, who won the final six races of 1952 and the first three of 1953.
Vettel has also equalled Michael Schumacher's 2004 haul of 13 wins in a season to complete one of the most dominant campaigns ever witnessed in the sport.
In his 215th and final race in F1 before joining Porsche's sportscar programme, Mark Webber at least joined his Red Bull team-mate Vettel on the podium with a runner-up finish ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
It was a captivating start from Mercedes as for once, from pole, Vettel was not into turn one in the lead.
Instead, Nico Rosberg blasted by his fellow German, whilst behind the duo Lewis Hamilton managed to take the normally fast-starting Alonso.
The dicing between the quartet on the opening lap was action-packed before Vettel and Alonso swept by their Mercedes rivals on the start -finish straight at the beginning of lap two.
It became apparent that with no dry running on Friday or Saturday as rain dominated, Mercedes' set-up was not configured to the change in conditions because although there were grey skies over Interlagos, only the odd spot ever appeared throughout the 71 laps.
It resulted in Rosberg and Hamilton quickly falling back, the latter swiftly passed by Webber midway through lap two to drop to fifth.
Given this grand prix signals the end of the V8 era, the unit signed off in spectacular fashion on lap four when the engine blew on the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, sending palls of smoke into the air.
Those behind would have been blinded for a few seconds, yet there were no further incidents early on as the field settled into play.
With Vettel out in front, it came as no surprise to see him eke out a cushion, initially over Alonso up until lap 13, then Webber beyond that as the Australian manoeuvred his way past the Spaniard.
With the first pit-stop window opening around a third of the way into the race there were a few spots of rain in the air, albeit nothing to cause any consternation.
The Brazilian fans, however, were left bemused and angered when they saw their hero in Felipe Massa take a drive-through penalty.
In his final race with Ferrari after an eight-year spell with the Maranello marque before heading off to Williams, Massa was harshly penalised for crossing the white line at the pit entry when he took his first pit stop.
When informed by race engineer Rob Smedley of the penalty, Massa was infuriated as he said over the radio: "Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Unacceptable!"
At a time when Massa was battling with Hamilton for fourth, that wrecked the Brazilian's chances of a strong finish to his Ferrari career.
Two thirds of the way through the race, again rain threatened, and at a time when the drivers were poised to make their second stops.
Problems arose, however, on lap 47 as Williams' Valtteri Bottas tried to unlap himself with Hamilton, only for the duo to bang rear wheels.
Bottas immediately lost the rear-left and was sent spinning off the track, whilst Hamilton suffered a puncture to his rear-right.
That forced him to limp back to the pits, sustaining minor floor damage in the process.
Perhaps fearing a safety car, Vettel immediately pitted, catching his crew unawares, with Webber in behind and having to queue, whilst from third Alonso also took on fresh rubber.
At that stage there was the prospect of a grandstand finish, but without the rain Vettel had a trouble-free run to the line.
Behind the leading trio came Jenson Button, giving McLaren their best finish of the year, followed by Rosberg and Sergio Perez, with Massa seventh and Hamilton ninth.
On the parade lap after the flag had fallen, remarkably Webber took off his helmet and flameproof balaclava so he could see the crowd and take their acclaim.
In taking to the podium Webber was given an Australian flag by team principal Christian Horner which he promptly draped around his neck.
Once the champagne had been sprayed, Vettel graciously allowed Webber to be interviewed first, rather than himself as is customary in being the winner.
Webber said: "It was a good finish to my career.
"I want to thank Seb, Fernando, Lewis and Nico, all the guys who have been up there in the last five or six years.
"I enjoyed the last few laps in particular, so thanks to the team, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable career, one I'm very proud of."
Understandably given his run of wins Vettel remarked of himself to be "quite sad this weekend as it's the end" of the season.
He added: "To win every race since the break is unbelievable.
"As for Mark, we've been team-mates for a long time and we've maybe not had the best relationship, but we've respect for one another."
In the constructors' championship, Mercedes managed to edge Ferrari by six points.
Whilst for Marussia's Max Chilton there was some kudos in becoming the first rookie to finish every single race in his debut season.