Sebastian Vettel became only the third driver in history to win three consecutive world titles after a sixth place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Some light rain as the cars took to the grid made for a nervous start to the race and Vettel suffered Bruno Senna crashed into the side of the German’s Red Bull car to leave him facing the wrong way on the exit of turn four.
The championship leader was able to turn his car and continue in the race, but found himself at the back of the pack.
Ferrari made an incredible show of team driving as Felipe Massa and Alonso worked together to ensure the Spaniard made it up to third place by the end of the first lap.
The pair were forced to work hard again as Alonso went off the track at the start of lap five. The Spaniard was passed by Nico Hulkenberg, and Mark Webber immediately put him under pressure, but with the help of team-mate Massa the Spaniard held on to fourth.
Vettel quickly moved back up through the field and found himself in seventh place as Button passed Lewis Hamilton to take the race lead after just eight laps. The light, but steady rain then started to have a big impact.
With the majority of cars making the change to intermediate tyres, Button and Hulkenberg chose to stay out in front on slick tyres despite the slippery conditions. Button was unable to hold off Hulkenberg and the Force India driver took the lead as the pair build a lead of over 40 seconds over the field.
Just as it looked like the leading pair would not be caught. A puncture for Nico Rosberg combined with complaints from some drivers over the radio prompted the deployment of the safety car during lap 23.
As marshals cleared bits of debris from the track, the field grouped together behind the safety car with Alonso and Vettel sitting in fourth and fifth.
The restart saw Hulkenberg retain his lead, but Red Bull lost positions as Vettel was passed by Kamui Kobayashi on the inside of turn one as Webber tried to go around the outside and went very wide.
Webber and Vettel were not the only team-mates doing battle, as Hamilton passed his McLaren team-mate Button to take second from him.
The rain never really went away and as the race approached 50 laps, the light drizzle caused confusion in the pit lane, with some teams telling drivers to expect more rain, and others expecting it to dry out.
The wet conditions eventually got the better of Hulkenberg: he slid his car sideways after allowing his tyres to stray onto the white lines into turn six. The slide allowed Hamilton to ease past him into the race lead.
With Alonso sitting in fourth place and unable to gain any ground on third place Button, his title challenge seemed to be over until the rain once again had an impact on the race.
Hulkenberg pushed hard on Hamilton and attempted to make a pass on the inside of turn one. Unfortunately for both men, the wet track meant Hulkenberg lost control and crashed into Hamilton, ending his race.
That allowed Button to regain the lead and saw Hulkenberg punished with a drive through penalty. With the rain getting heavier, drivers were forced to change back onto intermediate tyres. Alonso suddenly found himself being gifted second place by team-mate Massa after the change of tyres.
Vettel, who was having radio problems, suffered badly in the pits as the team appeared surprised by his arrival and did not have tyres ready for him. That left the German briefly in eighth place, meaning the title was heading to Alonso.
Vettel did not panic in the wet though. After gaining a place over Kobayashi, Vettel was gifted another one by Michael Schumacher and was destined for another title.
With Button holding a huge lead over Alonso, Vettel just needed to stay on the track to retain his title. With two laps remaining a nasty crash for Paul di Resta brought out a second safety car. That made it even easier for Vettel, who cruised home to win his third championship.