Briton Jenson Button was crowned drivers world champion on Sunday when he finished fifth in an incident-filled Brazilian Grand Prix won in by Australian Mark Webber.
Button, who has led the championship all season after winning the opening Australian Grand Prix in March, had started 14th on the grid, but drove with courage and determination to achieve his goal and send the Brawn GP team into wild celebration.
“We are the champions” Button sang from his cockpit after crossing the finishing line and capturing the title with one race to spare.
His success ensured also that the Brawn team, created out of the ashes of the defunct Honda team last winter, also clinched the constructors’ world championship.
Button’s great success came in his 169th Grand Prix and at the end of his ninth season in Formula One, a year when he won six of the opening seven races and then struggled to recapture that form.
It was a classic case of the tortoise and the hare in the second half of the season as Button survived the intensifying pressure around him, but continued to collect points.
Webber, in a Red Bull, won comfortably ahead of Pole Robert Kubica in a BMW Sauber and third-placed outgoing drivers' champion Briton Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren Mercedes.
German Sebastian Vettel, in the second Red Bull, was fourth ahead of Button with Finn Kimi Raikkonen sixth for Ferrari. Swiss Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso was seventh.