The title permutations are like like this: If Vettel finishes in the top four, he is world champion. If Alonso wins the race and Vettel is fifth or lower then Alonso takes the title. If Alonso is second and Vettel eighth or lower, or Alonso third and Vettel tenth or lower, then Alonso wins the championship. Any other results make Vettel champion. Schumacher heads to the grid for the last time with a "Thank You" flag hanging out of his cockpit …

There is still a clear threat of rain, ranging from between 40-70% depending on which reports you believe, but Ferrari has just tweeted: "No rain expected during the race. After one week of unanimous forecasts for a rainy Sunday we will have a dry race."

© Press Association

Lap 1

It's a short lap so the cars are already coming round to the grid. Still some drizzle in the air and spots of rain streaming off camera lenses. DRS zone here is out of turn three towards turn four ... the grid has formed and the lights come on. One, two, three, four, five...GO!

A terrible start for vettel as he collides with Bruno Senna ... Vettel has been spun on turn one and has damage and by the time he turns to face the right way and resumes he's at the back of the field! Hamilton leads from Button and IT'S RAINING! Massa third but going backwards having been second

Lap 2

Alonso dives down the inside of Webber and Massa in to turn one! ALONSO IS THIRD! As it stands, Alonso will be champion...

Vettel is told to stay out. He has damage on the left sidepod but it's something than can't be repaired.

Raikkonen almost took Vettel out at turn four but dived off track to avoid him. Someone hit him in turn four and Vettel spun. Perez and Senna are both out.

Lap 3

Vettel has already caught the back of the pack and sets the fastest lap of the race. He's passed Karthikeyan and Pic and up to 19th... He's told the car is OK according to the data. Hamilton leads Button by a second and Hulkenberg passes Webber for fourth before turn one

Lap 4

Vettel turned in on Senna at turn four. Vettel was at fault there and he's lucky not to have more damage. DRS is disabled as it's slippery and we have yellow flags

Lap 5

Alonso locks up turn one and runs wide! Hulkenberg is through to third place and Alonso is not in the top three position he needs any more! It's raining harder but everyone still on slicks.

Vettel back up to 16th now. DRS is enabled again.

Lap 6

Hamilton leads Button by 0.6s as the rain gets heavier. Raikkonen and Schumacher pit for intermediate tyres. Massa passes Webber in to turn four and Kobayashi is right behind the Red Bull now. Alonso is slow at the moment and Massa is his rear gunner.

Grosjean's gone off at speed in the final sector due to the rain. Button attacks Hamilton but can't get through

Lap 7

WEBBER SPINS! Kobayashi tapped him round at turn one and he's to the back of the field!

Button's past Hamilton but lost out again.

Lap 8

Vettel is flying! Vettel is overtaking everyone and up to eighth already.

Button passes Hamilton for the lead at turn five, with Hulkenberg stalking the pair of them. This is incredible, it's raining but everyone on slick tyres.

Vettel now seventh and all over the back of Kobayashi for sixth.

Lap 9

Button leads Hamilton by 0.8s at the end of the lap with Hulkenberg 2.2s further back. Alonso is fourth and 5.5s behind Hulkenberg.

Races everywhere - Marussia v Caterham and Kovalainen is in tenth place! Glock is chasing him hard. Battle is for 10th in the constructors' there.

Vettel is told "It's a long race, keep your car on the black stuff, that's all we need"

Lap 10

Button leads by 1.6s and Hamilton has Hulkenberg gaining. Still raining but Button is told he's on the right tyre at the moment as he's quicker than on inters.

Webber pits for intermediate tyres, so he's a guinea pig for Vettel. Alonso's gone wide again at turn one!

Lap 11

Looks like inters are quicker now as Hamilton and Alonso pit for intermediate tyres. Vettel coming in for inters as well. Vettel can see Alonso leaving ahead of him, it's still raining. Button leads.

Hulkenberg is 3.6s off the lead in second place and Vettel has just rejoined behind his team-mate back in 18th place.

Lap 12

Button says "It's not raining, it's not raining" and stays out on slicks. So does Hulkenberg.

The HRTs and Marussias are battling right in front of Alonso, with the Red bulls behind them too! It's such a mixed up field! Button is tiptoeing round at the front but staying out. 1.8s clear of Hulkenberg.

Lap 13

Hamilton dives up the inside of Massa for third place. The track is coming back to those on slicks though - Button, Hulkenberg and Massa.

Webber lets Vettel through and Vettel is now all over the back of Rosberg battling for 11th. Pic has pulled off at turn four

Lap 14

Button leads by 2.6s, it still seems to be changing lap by lap and it's raining again. Vettel passes Rosberg out of Juncao and he's up to 11th. Petrov next up the road. And he's through there too. Such perils for Vettel though!

Button and Hulkenberg are close on track but slow now

Lap 15

It's still raining, and Button leads Hulkenberg by 1.1s. Massa is dropping like a stone - seven seconds off the pace and Alonso is up to fourth ahead of his team-mate.

Massa loses out to Kobayashi and Vettel before Ferradura. Vettel up to sixth

Lap 16

Hulkenberg is less than a second behind Button now. Hamilton radios in to say his inters are going off in third place.

Vettel passes Kobayashi in to turn one and he's fifth. Replays show Vettel passed Kobayashi under yellow flags earlier!

Lap 17

Hulkenberg attacks Button in to turn one but doesn't make the move stick. He's all over the McLaren. Vettel is now chasing down Alonso on track as Newey looks at a photo of the damage on his car on the Red Bull pit wall.

Looks like the rain has stopped and the track is drying. Hulkenberg close behind Button once again and he attacks again

Lap 18

Vettel told he's the quickest man on inters and he's within three seconds of Alonso. Hulkenberg still can't find a way past Button, and these two are 18 SECONDS clear of Hamilton and four seconds quicker on the last lap!

Hamilton is told he needs to make the tyres last as they expect the rain to continue for a bit, but he says "they're already nearly finished".

Lap 19

Button out of shape out of the final corner and Hulkenberg leads the race!

Hamilton pits for slicks. Where will he rejoin? Hard tyres on the McLaren. Alonso pits but Vettel stays out.

Hulkenberg is pulling away quickly at the front, this is incredible!

Lap 20

Hulkenberg leads by 0.8s as Hamilton loses out to Vettel. Vettel up to third but told to pit, so Hamilton retakes third place. Could still be a stewards investigation for Vettel though.

Both Red Bulls pit for hard tyres. Alonso stays ahead of Vettel on track in fourth place.

Lap 21

The gap remains less than a second between Hulkenberg and Button, while Hamilton is getting up to speed on the slicks. As it stands, Vettel is champion and he's got Alonso in his sights up ahead.

Puncture for Rosberg on the slicks and he's throwing chunks of rubber all over the track.

Lap 22

Hulkenberg with the fastest lap and he's 1.2s clear of Button. Hamilton 45 seconds back in third and Alonso another 20 seconds back. Vettel is 2.6s behind Alonso and Kobayashi is catching the Red Bull.

Kobayashi with the fastest lap and he's right behind Vettel now!

Lap 23

Alonso complains that there's too much debris on the track, and the safety car is deployed. Hulkenberg and Button should pit as they have a 47s lead and have yet to pit while all behind them have pit twice.

Lap 24

Hulkenberg and Button do both pit for hard tyres. It's a short lap here and it's been absolutely chaotic so far. Breathe! Hulkenberg retains the lead ahead of Button as they rejoin.

This just bunches the field up, but Hulkenberg will not have wanted this as he had such a large cushion over third place. Massa has dropped to 11th in all the chaos.

Lap 25

Henrik emails in to ask: "Regs say 10 sec stop-and-go for overtaking another driver under yellow flags, correct? Question is, DARE the stewards uphold the rules and make the call on Vettel?"

It's surprising that it's not being investigated yet, but we don't know the full reasons for the move - Kobayashi could have gone off track before we cut to Vettel.

Three of the four retirees are walking back to the pits together. Maldonado the only man not with them.

Lap 26

Still under the safety car and it appears to be spitting again.

Teemu emails in to say: "Go Kimi go, he's gonna win this race!!! Greetings from Finland!"

Vettel is warned that "people do funny things to warm their tyres up, be careful". Red Bull is NOT sitting comfortably...

Lap 27

Another lap behind the safety car and lapped cars (Glock in 12th place back) are allowed to unlap themselves).

Grosjean's off was at Murgulho earlier, he went off at really high speed as the car snapped away in the wet but he's OK.

Lapped cars are on their way past, but Button radios in to say: "We need to go quicker because it's starting to rain, we won't be able to keep any tyre temperature"

Lap 28

Alonso radios in to his team in Italian and says "It's starting to rain again in turn four"

You can't make this any more dramatic! Everyone is on slick tyres and it's raining right now. The radar says the next light rain is expected in 15 minutes - at 15:00 local time

Lap 29

Akhil emails: "Go For It Hamilton!!!!! Cheers from India..."

Mayur from India adds: "As an Indian, i am so proud of Force India today. Leading the race. Wow. Did not think it would happen so soon. May Hulk win!!"

Hulkenberg will be under huge pressure from the McLarens when the race restarts.

Vettel's damage is on the left rear - hole in the bodywork and a dented exhaust. Haven't seen the other side of the car clearly.

Safety car in this lap.

Lap 30

We're away again and Hulkenberg did a good job with the restart. He ledas Button over the line but Vettel got a bad one! Kobayashi passes him up the inside in to turn one, while Webber slides wide on the outside.

Bit odd from Webber, he attacked the outside of Vettel but ran out of road. Vettel down to sixth but Alonso has Kobayashi close behind.

Lap 31

DRS is enabled and Hulkenberg locks up in to turn one but keeps the lead. Hamilton dives down the inside of Button in to turn four for second place.

Alonso holding off Kobayashi, with Vettel unable to quite keep in touch.

Lap 32

Alonso has a look at Button but doesn't make a move. He's on mediums compared to Button on hards. Alonso out of shape in turn three and Kobayashi passes him before turn four! Alonso has Vettel behind him now.

For those asking about the Vettel incident with yellow flags - it is NOT under investigation, it's just the pictures we've seen.

Lap 33

Alonso retakes fourth from Kobayashi in to turn one. Raikkonen runs wide at turn one and drops to 13th. Hulkenberg leads by 2.4s from Hamilton. Vettel has Massa all over his gearbox now.

Massa had past di Resta on the second lap after the safety car with a good move up the inside in the infield.

Lap 34

Hulkenberg leads by 2.6s with the fastest lap. Here's Massa: DRS open and he's ahead of Vettel! Vettel back down to seventh. Rob Smedley is delighted with that move.

Button is 1.1s behind Hamilton and Alonso 1.9s further back.

Lap 35

Hamilton had set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, and Vettel is struggling a touch with the damage - he's got Ricciardo catching him now. Ricciardo has a bad middle sector though to give the championship leader some breathing space.

Raikkonen all over the back of Schumacher in the battle for 11th place.

Lap 36

Hamilton with another fastest lap and he's now 2.3s behind Hulkenberg. Massa with a sideways moment as he chases Kobayashi, the track is slippery off-line but dry on the racing line.

Vettel almost loses it at Juncao and drops back a touch

Lap 37

Hamilton with the fastest lap but he's less than 0.1s quicker than Hulkenberg. What a job Hulkenberg is doing at the front. Button 1.8s behind his team-mate and Alonso two second further back. He's gapped Kobayashi by 2.4s though.

Massa dives round the outside of Kobayashi in to turn four with a great move. He's fifth now and Alonso's rear gunner once again

Lap 38

Hulkenberg matches Hamilton while Button sets the fastest lap by 0.1s. Vettel holding on to Kobayashi will now and he's 1.7s clear of Ricciardo.

It's still spitting with rain, but not heavy.

Di Resta has spun at Juncao and dropped to 12th place.

Lap 39

Hamilton is 2.1s behind Hulkenberg and 1.7s ahead of Button. Massa is slowing the pack up and has dropped over four seconds behind Alonso.

Great racing between Schumacher and Raikkonen in sector one as they go side by side until turn three. Brilliant stuff and Raikkonen is through.

Lap 40

Hamilton says "more rain is coming" on the radio. God knows how these guys can look at anything other than the bit of tarmac ahead of them. Intermittent rain at present but the radar says "no more drops on Interlagos for the moment"

Lap 41

Di Resta passes Schumacher using DRS for 11th place. His team-mate leads by two seconds. Alonso is a comfortable fourth while Webber has just passed Ricciardo for eighth, so he's now setting off after Vettel.

Vettel's pace is OK, but he's a bit slow in the middle sector and about 1.3s off the ultimate pace. He'll be nursing that car.

Lap 42

Raikkonen and di Resta are within 10 seconds of Vettel and catching at about half a second per lap.

Hulkenberg radios in to say "I'm not sure we'll get to the end on this set" - he's on hard tyres. He may not need to worry, though, as it's just started drizzling again.

Lap 43

Good lap from Vettel and a not so good one from Kobayashi, they're two seconds behind Massa now. Both Ferrari's are on mediums and may struggle to make the end on those. Alonso isn't quick enough at present anyway - 4.6s off the podium and he needs a top three to have any chance of the title.

Webber losses it under braking for Juncao but saves the car and continues. Flat spots for him though.

Lap 44

The pace has dropped off by two seconds again as it's raining again. Hamilton now 1.3s behind Hulkenberg.

Vettel close behind Kobayashi but can't make a move after Kobayashi ran a bit wide at turn one. Vettel's told "Careful in turn 12, it's slippery"

Lap 45

More rain is falling at present, it looks very dark around the circuit. It's not hard enough to get anyone on inters though and the teams expect it to stop in five minutes.

Hulkenberg pegs his lead at 1.2s and Button is two seconds further back in third. Alonso now 5.8s off the lead.

Lap 46

Hamilton is stalking Hulkenberg but it's all about keeping it on the island as the track gets slippery. Petrov spins at Laranja having put two wheels on the white line under braking.

Lap 47

Alonso really needs more rain if he's to get this title - he can't catch those ahead at present and will probably need to stop again for another set of slicks at some point.

Button seems to be a bit more tentative in these conditions as he's dropping off the leading two a bit.

Lap 48

Vettel given tips over the radio of how to try using his KERS to pass Kobayashi, He's now 22 seconds off the lead and 12s behind Alonso.

Hulkenberg's spun at Laranja too and Hamilton leads! Exactly the same as Petrov, he put two wheels on the white line under braking. That's his first mistake.

Lap 49

Could that have cost Hulkenberg the win? He's 1.8s behind Hamilton now. Shots show Alonso's tyres looking in a bad way as he locks up in to Laranja. He's dropped six seconds off the back of Button.

Vettel has dropped off the back of Kobayashi too.

Lap 50

Hamilton the only man under 1m20s at present. He leads by 2.4s and Button is 2.2s behind Hulkenberg. Vettel looks tentative and he's over two seconds behind Kobayashi.

The teams think it will stop raining soon, but there's a lot of water on the onboard of Vettel's car

Lap 51

Vettel tries to radio in to his team but is told it doesn't work. "Move the mic around if you can".

Rosberg has pit for intermediate tyres, it's still raining. He's down in 18th though so worth the gamble,

Lap 52

Ricciardo pits and puts on a set of hard tyres. The pit lane is wet though.

Vettel is slow, he's 1.7s off Alonso's pace at present and Webber is catching him rapidly. Rocky tells him "Sebastian, you're doing the same lap times as Fernando, hang in there"

Lap 53

Vettel pits for a set of medium tyres, he was really struggling. We have a yellow flag for a while but it's not clear why. Vettel struggling to get the power down on exit but he's back out in 10th place. If Alonso gains one place he'll be in position.

Lap 54

Raikkonen ran wide at Juncao and went behind the barrier to use the support exit but there's a gate blocking his route! He has to spin it round and drive back through

Lap 55

Hulkenberg tries to pass Hamilton in to turn one and there's contact. HAMILTON IS OUT! Hulkenberg dropped it and spun in to the McLaren. Vettel pits for intermediate tyres!

Vettel with such a slow stop! Alonso is up to second!

Lap 56

We're waiting for confirmation of where Vettel is, but Alonso is third and tiptoeing round in the rain. Vettel is 11th! Alonso would win the title as it stands!

It looks like inters are the way to go though, so Vettel may still be able to recover from there.

Lap 57

Hulkenberg is OK to continue and is second. Alonso pits for intermediates as Vettel passes Kobayashi for ninth place - that's enough for Vettel at present.

Drive through penalty for Hulkenberg for causing a collision - that could promote Alonso once again!

Lap 58

Button pits for inters, Hulkenberg is in the pits too. Vettel again passed Kobayashi under yellow flags according to what I could see - but I'm not sure why there were yellows there...

Vettel is half a lap behind Alonso and it's continuing to rain. Alonso is up to third while Vettel has just lose some bodywork as he brakes for turn four. Vettel is up to seventh though as Hulkenberg takes his drive through

Lap 59

Webber is up to fourth now and Hulkenberg fifth ahead of Schumacher in sixth. So Massa is second and Alonso is third - that will swap round soon too.

Button leads by 13 seconds.

Lap 60

11 laps to go and what an epic this is. It's still raining and there's proper spray out there. Vettel is seventh - 46s off the lead and half a minute behind Alonso. Kobayashi is keeping pace behind him in eighth.

Hamilton returns to the McLaren pit, what a sad way for his final race for the team to end. He shakes hands with the team members as he returns.

Lap 61

Button is comfortably leading and pulling away in a race of his own right now. Alonso catching Massa and he's just two seconds behind his team-mate now.

Kobayashi is 2.2s behind Vettel for seventh place.

It's raining very hard in the pit lane and making turn one tricky

Lap 62

Here's the switch as Alonso passes Massa for second place. It's still not enough though as it stands - Vettel will win the title by one point as it is.

Vettel is catching Schumacher quickly for sixth place and doing a good job at present. He's reminded to "just keep it on the track mate"

Lap 63

Ricciardo pits for full wets from 12th place. Hulkenberg is close behind Webber in the battle for fourth place. Vettel is told "Your current position is good enough". He's still catching Schumacher too. Alonso is 20s off the lead so won't improve unless Button hits some form of trouble

Lap 64

Massa keeping pace with Alonso now having let him through. Vettel closes up on Schumacher in to turn one and uses DRS but doesn't get through in to turn four.

Schumacher appears to let Vettel through out of turn five. Vettel up to sixth.

Lap 65

Button is pacing himself at the front with his 21 second lead. It's still raining heavily, but everyone is on inters except Ricciardo. It appears to be easing up a bit now as well.

Webber is catching Massa for third - he's 3.6s back

Lap 66

Pic is in 12th for Marussia at present, but Petrov is less than a second behind and could snatch it for Caterham! What a battle that is too. Petrov is actually through using DRS! He's 12th and that would get Caterham 10th in the constructors' championship

Lap 67

Vettel is told he's the quickest man on track, and with just five laps remaining he's in position to take his third consecutive title. Alonso is 21s behind Button and Massa is 2.8s further back. Webber is 2.3s behind the second Ferrari.

Ricciardo in 14th is catching Pic and Petrov quickly. Might not be all over back there...

Di Resta passes Vergne in to turn four for ninth place

Lap 68

Vettel is clearly the fastest man out there at present and he's told by his race engineer to keep it on the black stuff. Horner's foot is tapping on the pit wall.

Webber is 1.8s behind Massa in the fight for third with Hulkenberg close behind too.

Lap 69

Button continues to lead by over 20s. Alonso needs something to go wrong up ahead if he is to take this title.

Lap 70

Kobayashi spins at turn four and almost hits Vergne as the Toro Rosso comes through. Kobayashi attacked Schumacher and spun.

Massa pulls 2.3s clear of Webber with Hulkenberg close behind the Red Bull.

Di Resta has crashed out of the final corner and the safety car is deployed.

Lap 71

Final lap and the race will finish behind the safety car. We're on the final lap and Vettel is sixth so this will be enough for him to take the championship …

Jenson Button wins the Brazilian Grand Prix as the safety car pits, Fernando Alonso is second but SEBASTIAN VETTEL IS THE WORLD CHAMPION! Vettel comes home sixth and takes the title by three points. What a race. I need a lie down.

Vettel earned that title coming back through the field, and his radio is working enough for us to hear him emotionally say "Oh my god guys". Button thanks his McLaren team for the finish to the season, and is told the "driving in those conditions was absolutely superb". He ends the year as it started: with victory.

Vettel climbs on top of his car and celebrates. Alonso stares in to the distance and looks distraught in all honesty as he watches the celebrations. Vettel celebrates with his team before going to get weighed.

Horner and Vettel embrace, and Vettel says "it's unbelievable". Alonso looks drained as he waits to go on the podium alongside Button. Vettel jumps the wall to celebrate in front of the crowd as the top three take to the podium. Vettel is in the Red Bull garage celebrating with his team as Alonso stands on the podium. If Alonso was one place further up he would be world champion; that's how close it was.

© Getty Images

In amongst all that it's easy to overlook a fantastic drive from Massa, who takes the third place trophy. He salutes his home fans and drove superbly. Ferrari looks distraught as a team, but it has secured second in the constructors' championship ahead of McLaren after Hamilton's retirement.

What a fantastic way to end the 2012 season; with an incredible race and three points separating the top two. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel, commiserations to Fernando Alonso who has been fantastic all season. Will there be any repercussions from that race? We'll have it all covered on ESPNF1.com. I'm sorry we couldn't use more of your comments but it was such a crazy race, thanks for sending them in. Make sure you stay with us for all the reaction, and thank you so much for joining us. Bye for now.