Mark Webber has taken his first win of the season at Interlagos overnight, winning his second Brazilian Grand Prix.
Webber started second on the grid for the final race of the season, but was gifted the lead on lap 30 after gearbox issues forced Sebastian Vettel to let his team-mate pass.
The win secured the Australian third place in the Drivers’ Championship, jumping Fernando Alonso, to finish just behind Button.
‘Felt good all weekend. Today I had a bit of a rub of the green.,’ said Webber. ‘Would’ve been nice to race Sebastian all the way, through.’
‘A win that you’ll take for sure. I’ve had enough bad luck, or whatever you want to call it – but that’s how motorsport is sometimes.
‘Good to finish on a high.’
The Australian also reflected on his season, in which he was often lagging behind Vettel in pace.
‘Today was a very special day for me,’ he said. ‘Seb clearly had a great year, and so did the team.’
‘I’m looking forward to coming back in February and concentrating on the job again.
‘I think I’m going to have a stronger season than this year.’
Webber also took the time to dedicate his win to ill friend Bob Woods.
Vettel managed to nurse his car to second place, despite suffering from a ’serious gearbox problem’.
The Champion’s engineer appeared on team radio several times, warning Vettel to shortshift through gears two and three in order to bring the car home.
‘It was a real shame. I had a good start. I was able to pull out a gap very early in the race,’ admitted Vettel.
‘Nevertheless, Mark drove a fantastic race and deserves to win.
I think we’ve had a pretty amazing season, and I think it would be over the top being upset now.’
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted to the BBC after the race that the team didn’t expect the gearbox to last beyond half distance.
Vettel also looked back on his year, in which he became the sport’s youngest ever double World Champion.
‘I think we had a great season,’ he said. ‘Pretty incredible, I think.’
‘The team has been faultless most of the time. They’ve raised their level massively compared to the last few years.
‘We seem to enjoy what we do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do – as long as you enjoy it. I think that’s one thing about us. We really love what we do, we’re passionate.
‘It’s year we’ll always be very proud of.’
Jenson Button filled the last step on the podium after passing Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari late in the race.
The Briton - who won his Championship in Brazil in 2009 - had a shot for second place with a gamble on a two-stop strategy, but the medium tyre degraded faster than expected.
‘I just didn’t have the pace on the softer of the two tyres,’ said Button.
‘We decided to put the harder tyre on for the last two stints, and it worked quite well for me.
‘Qualifying every lap, but still couldn’t catch Seb.
‘Third was as high as we could get.
‘I want to say a big thank you to everyone in the team. Bring on 2012.’
Alonso came home in fourth. He showed impressive pace off the line, challenging Button for third in the first corner, and racing in third for the first stint. His performance dropped off as the race progressed, however, and fourth is the best he could’ve hoped for.
Felipe Massa backed up his team-mate in fifth place, equalling his best finish of the year. However, it concludes a year in which he became the first Ferrari driver not to finish on the podium in a season since Ivan Capelli in 1992.
Adrian Sutil finished a feisty sixth. It marks the end of his impressive run home in 2011, with speculation mounting that he’s keeping his stocks high for a move away from Force India in 2012.
Sutil’s team-mate Paul di Resta finished in eighth, the two Force Indias split by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Kamui Kobayashi finished ninth for Sauber, guaranteeing the team eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship, three points ahead of Toro Rosso.
Vitaly Petrov finished tenth, taking home the final point of the season for Renault - which will become Lotus next year.
Rubens Barrichello finished fourteenth in what may be the final race of his career. Rubinho qualified in P12, but lost seven places off the line. The Brazilian pointed to his car’s wet weather gearing for his slow start.
Bruno Senna received the race’s only penalty - a drive through for causing a collision with Michael Schumacher on lap 10 - which many judged to be a harsh result. he served it on lap 19, and eventually finished seventeenth.
Lewis Hamilton was the highest profile of four retirements, stopping on lap 47 with a box of neutrals.
Timo Glock and his Virgin team, meanwhile, will be the subject of a stewards’ investigation after the race for unsafe release from the pit lane, with the car leaving the pit box before the left-rear tyre was fastened.
Formula One returns for the 2012 Championship Season on March 18 with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Melboune.