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As it happened: The Brazilian Grand Prix
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Vettel vs Alonso15:45 Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for the final chapter of what has been a memorable Formula 1 season. The stage is set for Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to battle it out for the 2012 title - it's the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Lewis Hamilton stole the thunder from the championship protagonists yesterday with a fine lap of 1m12.458s to claim pole position for today's 71-lap encounter. The Briton edged out McLaren team-mate Jenson Button by one-tenth of a second, with Mark Webber a slightly surprising third, ahead of Vettel.

So the points leader departs from the outside of row two today. Felipe Massa is fifth in the leading Ferrari, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in sixth spot. Alonso is seventh on the grid - promoted one spot after Pastor Maldonado was given a 10-place grid penalty for missing the red light at the FIA weigh bridge at the end of Q2.

Hamilton leads all-McLaren front row

We are set for a fantastic duel with high tension. In around two hours from now, either Vettel or Alonso will be able to call themselves triple world champion and we can't wait for the action to begin.

15:46 The F1 season may end today, but the stars of world motorsport will be out in force next Sunday for the annual AUTOSPORT Awards. Join us then for live coverage from the Grosvenor House hotel in central London.

15:47 Here's how the standings look heading into the title decider:
World Championship standings, round 19:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:   
 1.  Vettel       273        1.  Red Bull-Renault          440
 2.  Alonso       260        2.  Ferrari                   367
 3.  Raikkonen    206        3.  McLaren-Mercedes          353
 4.  Hamilton     190        4.  Lotus-Renault             302
 5.  Webber       167        5.  Mercedes                  136
 6.  Button       163        6.  Sauber-Ferrari            124
 7.  Massa        107        7.  Force India-Mercedes       99
 8.  Grosjean      96        8.  Williams-Renault           76
And this is how the drivers' battle can be won:



- He finishes in the top four
- He finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso doesn't win
- He finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso is third or lower
- He finishes 10th or worse and Alonso isn't on the podium


- He wins and Vettel is fifth or lower
- He is second and Vettel eighth or lower
- He is third and Vettel is 10th or lower

15:47 The fervent crowd rises as the Brazilian national anthem is played.

15:49 Heavy overnight showers have resulted in a green racetrack for the drivers to work with this afternoon, but there has been no further rain since 08:00.

It is overcast, but the radar is clear with no incoming showers. If some darker cloud rolls in then there may be some light drizzle at times, but it now looks as though the championship decider will take place in dry and cool conditions, with a maximum temperature of 22 degrees Celsius.

15:49 A tense atmosphere on the grid as teams ready the cars for the title decider, with threatening skies above despite the clear radar images.

15:51 This is how the grid will line up today:
Pos Driver                Team
 1. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes
 2. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes
 3. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault
 4. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault
 5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari
 6. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes
 7. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari
 8. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault
 9. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes
10. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes
11. Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault
12. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari
13. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes
14. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari
15. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari
16. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault *
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari
18. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault
19. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault
20. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault
21. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth
22. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth
23. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth
24. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth

* 10-place grid penalty for third reprimand
15:51 Alonso, who needs a podium finish today to overcome Vettel's current points lead, looks calm as he chats with Ferrari engineers.

15:52 Still odd spots of drizzle in the air as drivers begin to climb aboard the cars for the final time this year.

Schumacher15:53 With the latest weather update pointing to dry conditions, teams are now plotting the best strategy for today's 71 laps on the medium and hard slick tyres.

The overcast conditions are helpful, with the concerns of thermal degradation after Friday's baking practice eased by significantly lower track temperatures.

Two stops still looks like a safe bet for leading teams, but strategists will surely be contemplating the switch to a one-stopper if the initial set of rubber survives the opening laps when the cars are heavy with fuel.

15:54 Despite the light rainfall, dry tyres are still the choice of the grid as the final deadline to change wheels approaches.

15:55 There are just five minutes to go until the formation lap begins at Interlagos.

15:56 Only one DRS zone at this circuit, with the chasing driver's wing allowed to open down the relatively short straight into Turn 4.

15:57 Vettel is warned by his race engineer that the track could be greasy, but that the race is meant to be dry.

15:57 Hamilton, who doesn't have a great record here despite taking the title in remarkable circumstances in 2008, looks ready to lead them away.

15:58 Schumacher waves to the TV cameras, as he prepares to put his racing gloves on for the last time in Formula 1.

15:58 Grid being cleared now with the final choice of dry rubber bolted on the cars.

15:59 Early indications are that Schumacher, Kobayashi and Grosjean are starting on the hard tyres, with the rest on the medium Pirelli.

15:59 Still some light drizzle falling as the blankets come off and the engines fire with a minute to go.

16:00 The formation lap begins at Interlagos. Lewis Hamilton leads the field of 24 away from the grid.

16:00 All 24 drivers got away and Hamilton is leading them out of Turn 4.

16:01 All nerves ahead of a potentially explosive first corner, with the ongoing light shower adding to the tension.

16:01 Through the Ferradura and round the infield come the pack as they desperately try to generate heat into their tyres on the cool circuit.

16:01 Hamilton rounds Juncao and takes them up the hill towards the grid.

16:02 Light drops still falling. Hamilton slows them down as he heads for pole position.

16:02 The front few rows are in position and the pack is forming up nicely. Are you ready? We await the lights...

Lap 1: The five red lights go out and we are racing in Brazil!

Lap 1: Hamilton gets a great start and leads with Massa challenging Button into Turn 1 and the Senna S.

Lap 1: Hamilton leads from a fast starting Massa and Button.

Lap 1: The track is greasy and Vettel has been involved in a shunt!

Lap 1: There's contact and Vettel is in it! Disaster for the points leader.

Lap 1: Vettel has damage to the left sidepod. He is stone last!

Lap 2: Hamilton leads them around with Button now up to second and Massa third.

Lap 2: Vettel got going again and is underway. Will he pit this time round?

Lap 2: Webber is looking for a way past Massa as... Alonso dives through for third, exactly what he needs to take the title!

Lap 2: Senna is out of the race. Vettel is advised to stay out by his race engineer.

Lap 2: Perez was also caught in in the melee at Turn 4 on the opening lap and he is out of the race.

Lap 3: Unbelievable scenes at Interlagos as they race around the second lap with Hamilton leading from Button and Alonso.

Lap 3: Vettel is 22nd and on the tail of Karthikeyan's HRT.

Lap 3: Webber is right on the gearbox of Alonso and could still deny the Spaniard if he takes the final podium spot.

Lap 3: But that won't be easy now as Hulkenberg blasts past Webber to take over fourth place.

Lap 3: Maldonado is also reported as being out of the race. Vettel has passed Karthikeyan and is up to 21st position.

Lap 3: Vettel posts the fastest lap of the race with 1m21.316s and he has passed Pic, into 19th spot.

Lap 4: Replays show a poor start for Vettel, who was boxed by team-mate Webber and the Ferrari pair into Turn 1.

Lap 4: Vettel has passed Pedro de la Rosa and now runs in 18th position.

Lap 5: Replays of the first lap show Vettel turning into the Descida do Lago and chopping across Bruno Senna, who was alongside him.

Lap 5: Alonso locks up at the Senna S - running wide onto the run off.

Lap 5: Hulkenberg piles through as Alonso is forced to defend from Webber and Massa.

Lap 5: More rain coming down and Vettel has passed Vergne and is into 16th place.

Lap 6: The rain is falling ever more as they race around these pulsating early laps.

Lap 6: Replays show Alonso running out of grip as he found the circuit ever wetter in Turn 1, dropping to fourth behind Hulkenberg.

Lap 6: Raikkonen and Schumacher pit, elevating Vettel up into 13th place.

Lap 6: So it's Hamilton from Button and Hulkenberg followed by a royal squabble with Alonso, Massa, Webber, Kobayashi and di Resta.

Lap 7: Vettel passes Kovalainen and is up to 12th in this amazing opening to the final race of the season.

Lap 7: Grosjean has crashed out of 11th position at Mergulho and is out of the race.

Lap 7: Massa has now passed Webber and is holding back the Red Bull as it all kicks off again.

Lap 7: Up front, Button seems to have more grip than Hamilton and is challenging the leader.

Lap 7: Raikkonen and Schumacher took on intermediate tyres. The Finn rejoined in 19th place with Schumacher down in 20th.

Lap 8: Webber is the next spinner and drops down the order as he recovers in the Red Bull.

Lap 8: Vettel has passed Petrov and takes over 11th position in the Red Bull. He is taking one or two places every lap.

Lap 8: Hamilton leads them back around in the drizzle, with Button just behind.

Lap 8: Vettel is through on Ricciardo and Rosberg. He is into a sensational eighth position.

Lap 8: Hulkenberg is just two seconds behind the McLaren pair as Button takes the lead.

Lap 9: Slippery surface flags all around the track as the light rain continues to mix things up.

Lap 9: Vettel has also passed di Resta and is up to seventh. Then, the German is immediately on the tail of Kobayashi.

Lap 9: Button leads into lap nine by 0.8 seconds from Hamilton. Hulkenberg is close with them, as Alonso falls away in fourth.

Lap 9: These are extremely tricky conditions as light spots continue to fall around the circuit.

Lap 10: Massa is fifth with Vettel remarkably up to sixth as the carnage clears the path ahead of the points leader.

Lap 10: Kobayashi has been into the pits. He rejoins further down the order in 19th position.

Lap 10: Schumacher comes into the pits again from 20th place.

Lap 11: Raikkonen is down in 19th place on those intermediates, but his pace is equal to the frontrunners.

Lap 11: Rosberg, Ricciardo and Webber all come into the pits, rejoining towards the rear of the field.

Lap 11: Vettel, who is warned of the next man up the road being Massa, is back into title winning position with his cut back through the field.

Lap 11: Lead pace fading rapidly now as those on Intermediates begin to find speed.

Lap 11: Hamilton pits for intermediates, as does Alonso.

Lap 12: Behind the top six, di Resta is seventh with Vergne eighth and Kovalainen in a stunning ninth. That will worry Marussia!

Lap 12: Not a great stop at McLaren as Vettel piles in for light wet rubber as well.

Lap 12: Di Resta is another to pit this time round and he too takes on the intermediate tyre.

Lap 12: Button continues for the moment on slicks but may be under threat from his team-mate despite Hamilton's slow stop.

Lap 13: Button reckons it has stopped raining and continues on his way with slick rubber. These are some of his favourite conditions.

Lap 13: Hulkenberg is now second with Massa third, Hamilton fourth, Vergne fifth and Kovalainen up to an amazing sixth.

Lap 13: Petrov is up to seventh with Glock eighth, de la Rosa ninth and Pic in 10th. This is amazing!

Lap 13: So Button leads from Hulkenberg and Massa - all not making the switch of tyres. Hamilton is the first of those on intermediates in fourth.

Lap 13: Now we have slower cars in the top 10 and Red Bulls, Alonso's Ferrari and the Mercedes pair all trying to come through.

Lap 13: Hamilton, who cuts past slick-shod Massa to take third place, laps around a second quicker than team-mate Button.

Lap 13: Vettel is 14th on the road with team-mate Webber 15th. Karthikeyan is 16th with Ricciardo 17th and Raikkonen 18th.

Lap 13: Button's pace is still reasonable though so this persistence on the slicks could well pay off.

Lap 13: Alonso is ahead of this lot on the road. He is ninth. He takes Petrov and Glock and is up to seventh spot.

Lap 14: Alonso is back up to sixth now as he cuts past those in the slower cars who have stayed out on slicks.

Lap 14: Vettel has passed Rosberg exiting Juncao and the German takes over 11th position, with Webber directly behind them.

Lap 14: Hamilton on Intermediates is still quicker than slick-shod Button but really needs his team-mate to be forced in for a stop.

Lap 15: Button completes a slow 1m30s lap as Hamilton reports his intermediates are going off.

Lap 15: Vettel makes another move, passing Kovalainen. Glock handily slides wide and the Red Bull driver is up to seventh.

Lap 15: Alonso, on intermediates, pulls past Vergne who remains out on slicks.

Lap 15: De la Rosa has recently been in for a stop. Glock and Petrov also come into the pits. All three slide down the order.

Lap 15: Meanwhile, Hulkenberg is rapid in these conditions and is closing on leader Button.

Lap 16: Massa, Vergne and Kovalainen all come into the pits this time round.

Lap 16: Hamilton is clocked 14.6 seconds behind the first two.

Lap 16: Hulkenberg is right with Button now as the Force India comes on strongly in these conditions.

Lap 16: Hulkenberg is quickly looking for a way past the leader.

Lap 17: Behind the championship contenders, Kobayashi is sixth with Webber seventh, Rosberg eighth, di Resta ninth and Ricciardo 10th.

Lap 17: Meanwhile at Red Bull, Adrian Newey is studying a detailed photo of the damage to his cars.

Lap 17: Raikkonen is 11th ahead of Glock 12th, Massa 13th, Vergne 14th, Petrov 15th, Kovalainen 16th, Pic 17th and Karthikeyan 18th.

Lap 17: Button locks up into the first corner but the DRS zone is somewhat limited here, denting Hulkenberg's chances.

Lap 18: Hamilton remains third but is falling away from the lead duo now with what he describes as "nearly finished" intermediates.

Lap 18: Button gets a wobble on through the final corner and Hulkenberg grabs the lead for Force India!

Lap 18: Hamilton pits his McLaren for slick rubber.

Lap 18: Alonso is also diving in for a change back to the dry tyres.

Lap 19: Schumacher comes into the pits. He rejoins still in 20th and last position. Not the way he wanted his last grand prix to work out.

Lap 19: Kobayashi pits from sixth, Rosberg from 10th and di Resta from 11th this time round.

Lap 20: So Hulkenberg comfortably leads from Button now with Hamilton resuming just behind Vettel, who reacts with a stop.

Lap 20: Webber is also in from fifth for a rapid change of rubber at Red Bull.

Lap 20: Vettel resumes right behind Alonso on the road.

Lap 20: Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Massa and Glock all come in behind the leaders this time round.

Lap 21: De la Rosa also pits the HRT as this races refuses to settle down. It has been rip-roaring action from the moment the lights went out.

Lap 21: Hulkenberg is clocked 0.8 seconds ahead of Button with Hamilton now a massive 45.5 seconds back in third.

Lap 21: Nico Rosberg has a right rear puncture and he is touring back to the pits.

Lap 21: Alonso is fourth again, almost 20s off the podium he needs, with Vettel chasing close behind.

Lap 22: Vergne pits from 10th position in the Toro Rosso. His team-mate Ricciardo is up in ninth.

Lap 22: Pic and Karthikeyan come in for a change of tyres. Rosberg also makes it back after touring round the rest of the lap.

Lap 22: Hulkenberg sets the fastest lap as the Sauber-bound German continues to lead strongly for Force India.

Lap 22: Alonso complains of debris on the circuit, with a safety car intervention something that would certainly help the Spaniard.

Lap 23: The safety car has been deployed.

Lap 23: Behind the championship battle, Kobayashi is back to sixth with Webber seventh, di Resta eighth, Ricciardo ninth and Raikkonen up to 10th.

Lap 23: Alonso's wish is granted as the big Mercedes is deployed to allow a track clean-up.

Lap 23: Lead duo Hulkenberg and Button will surely pit now for fresh tyres.

Lap 24: So many skirmishes in the race so far on the greasy surface. After Rosberg's puncture it makes sense to send the safety car out.

Lap 24: Tyre changes for Hulkenberg and Button as they resume still ahead of Hamilton on the road.

Lap 24: Alonso will come around in fourth place, with Vettel and Kobayashi behind the Ferrari.

Lap 24: Schumacher had made his way through Kovalainen, Pic and de la Rosa, following their stops. The German is currently shown in 15th place.

Lap 25: Vettel, who is in title-winning position at the moment, must be worried about the big dent in the rear of his Red Bull.

Lap 25: So Hulkenberg leads the pack behind the safety car with Button second, Hamilton third, Alonso fourth and Vettel fifth.

Lap 25: Kobayashi is sixth with Webber seventh, di Resta eighth, Ricciardo ninth, Raikkonen 10th, Massa 11th and Glock in 12th spot.

Lap 25: Vergne is 13th in the Toro Rosso, followed by Petrov 14th, Schumacher 15th, Kovalainen 16th, Pic 17th, de la Rosa 18th and Karthikeyan 19th.

Lap 26: Kobayashi, a strong sixth for Sauber at the moment, is edging closer to the points needed to take fifth from Mercedes in the constructors'.

Lap 26: Rosberg is the last runner in 20th position. With an order like that, the chaos is sure to continue once we get underway again.

Lap 26: All the cars are on dry rubber now, with a dry line evident all around the circuit.

Lap 26: Lapped cars can now pass the safety car.

Lap 27: Glock, Vergne, Petrov, Schumacher, Kovalainen, Pic, de la Rosa, Karthikeyan and Rosberg - all one lap down - make their way through.

Lap 28: Still a long way to go in a breathless title decider at Interlagos.

Lap 28: Alonso reports further rain at the far end of the circuit.

Lap 28: Drops of moisture still falling over the circuit. Meteo France expects next light shower in 15 minutes.

Lap 29: Hulkenberg leads as we prepare for the restart, but the McLaren pair will be keen to race the Force India.

Lap 29: The safety car is in at the end of the lap.

Lap 29: DRS is disabled as they race around to the green flag.

Lap 30: The safety car comes into the pitlane and we are racing once again.

Lap 30: Hulkenberg slides through the Senna S but holds the lead from Button and Hamilton.

Lap 30: Three-wide at the Senna S and Webber tries a move round the outside on Vettel and Kobayashi. It doesn't work and he slides wide.

Lap 30: Alonso, fourth, is now under pressure from Kobayashi who was the man on the move at the restart.

Lap 30: Webber has dropped down the order to a lowly 14th position. He has work to do if Red Bull wants him up there to help his team-mate.

Lap 31: Hulkenberg steams away at the end of the first resumed racing lap but only just survives a lock-up at the first corner.

Lap 31: Schumacher has passed Petrov and is up to 12th position, following Webber's demise.

Lap 31: Hamilton eyes a move on his team-mate and takes over second place at Turn 4.

Lap 31: Hamilton is now off in pursuit of leader Hulkenberg, with Button falling back towards Alonso - who needs that podium place.

Lap 31: Massa tries a move on di Resta in the infield section, but he is unable to take seventh. The Scot holds on for now.

Lap 32: Glock pits the Marussia and that elevates Schumacher to 11th place.

Lap 32: Alonso, who is on medium rubber at the moment, is now under threat from Kobayashi who does the Ferrari elegantly under DRS.

Lap 32: So that's Kobayashi up to fourth and that dents Alonso's title position even further, while also handing Sauber vital constructors potential

Lap 32: Behind the title battle, Massa surges past di Resta and takes over seventh, to a roar of approval from the Paulistas.

Lap 33: Alonso wants his place back through, diving past Kobayashi to take fourth into Turn 1.

Lap 33: Schumacher and Webber are towing through the field nicely. They are up to 10th and 11th positions.

Lap 33: Kobayashi is now under pressure from Vettel, who is again asked to be cautious by the Red Bull pits.

Lap 33: So Massa is seventh now with Ricciardo through ahead of di Resta and into eighth spot. The Scot falls to ninth with Schumacher 10th.

Lap 34: Hulkenberg is grabbing this opportunity with both hands as he sets the fastest lap and pulls 2.6 seconds clear of Hamilton.

Lap 34: Webber has passed Schumacher and the Australian moves into the top 10.

Lap 35: Despite Vettel dropping down the order, Alonso still needs more than fourth if he wants to snatch the title.

Lap 35: Raikkonen is 12th and close behind the Mercedes driver, with Petrov 13th, Pic 14th, Kovalainen 15th, Rosberg 16th and de la Rosa in 17th.

Lap 35: Hamilton responds with the fastest lap but he is still 2.5 seconds behind leader Hulkenberg.

Lap 36: We are only halfway through this intense battle.

Lap 36: Vettel, now seventh, is just about keeping up with Massa but has to cope with a major slide out of Juncao.

Lap 37: Riccardo in the Toro Rosso is the man immediately behind Vettel and the Red Bull-backed driver is unlikely to cause the German much trouble.

Lap 37: Massa likes the DRS zone here and takes fifth from Kobayashi with a find move around the outside of the Sauber.

Lap 37: Hulkenberg leads by 2.2 seconds now from Hamilton and Button, with the McLarens edging ever closer to the unlikely leader.

Lap 38: Kovalainen comes into the pits and drops down the order, elevating Rosberg to 15th place.

Lap 38: Hamilton sets the fastest lap at 1m18.069s, closing slightly on leader Hulkenberg.

Lap 38: Behind the championship battle, Ricciardo is eighth and just 1.7s back from Vettel. Di Resta spins away ninth place at Juncao.

Lap 39: Webber moves therefore to ninth spot, with Schumacher 10th - but Raikkonen takes the place away from him with a great move at the Senna S.

Lap 39: Hamilton is told he is "in the window" for another tyre change as he eyes dark clouds in the distance.

Lap 40: Di Resta slid back to 12th after his incident, with Petrov 13th, Pic 14th, Rosberg still 15th, de la Rosa 16th and Karthikeyan 17th.

Lap 40: Vettel, seventh, is right with Kobayashi but will want to be cautious with the spectacular Japanese.

Lap 40: Meteo France now expects light drops to continue for a while, rather than any pronounced shower.

Lap 40: The lead gap is holding around two seconds as Hulkenberg continues to set a strong race pace up front.

Lap 40: Di Resta is recovering well. He comes back past Schumacher to take over 11th in the Force India.

Lap 42: Alonso is now 4.3 seconds behind Button in fourth and has no chance of taking the title unless he can make the podium today.

Lap 42: Positions are finally holding steady just for a moment through the field. It has certainly been a breathless first 42 laps of this race.

Lap 43: Vettel is a comfortable seventh at the moment on the tail of Kobayashi, with no sign of trouble from his dented exhaust after the first lap.

Lap 43: A few more drops of rain falling again as Vettel edges closer to Kobayashi.

Lap 44: Webber loses the rear end of the Red Bull under braking for Juncao. He half-spins, but just keeps ahead of ninth placed Ricciardo.

Lap 44: Meanwhile, Hamilton has closed to 1.3 seconds behind Hulkenberg after a good lap.

Lap 44: Hulkenberg responds to the pressure from McLaren, stabilising the gap at 1.4 seconds. Button is a further 1.9 seconds back in third.

Lap 45: Alonso has fallen 5.5 seconds behind the McLaren pair and doesn't look to have the pace to challenge them at the moment.

Lap 45: Webber is hanging onto eighth with Ricciardo ninth, Raikkonen 10th, di Resta 11th, Schumacher 12th, Petrov 13th and Pic right behind him.

Lap 45: Tricky conditions for the tyres this afternoon, with engineers surely thinking another set of rubber may be needed to make the flag.

Lap 46: Kobayashi has heavy graining on his front tyres, with Vettel still pressuring the outgoing Sauber man.

Lap 46: Rosberg is 15th in the Mercedes ahead of Vergne 16th, de la Rosa 17th, Kovalainen 18th, Karthikeyan 19th and Glock 20th.

Lap 46: Getting slippery again now as more rain drifts in.

Lap 47: Petrov spins at the top of Ferradura and Pic gladly takes over 13th position in the Marussia. Rosberg is through into 14th.

Lap 47: Hulkenberg still holding on strongly up front, with Hamilton now 1.4 seconds behind. Button has dropped to 4.9 seconds off the lead.

Lap 48: Vettel is being told he could use all the KERS to try and pass Kobayashi's Sauber.

Lap 48: Oh no! Hulkenberg spins and Hamilton is through into the lead!

Lap 48: Pinheririnho is the trouble spot for Hulkenberg as a half-spin in the greasy conditions demotes him to second place.

Lap 49: Meanwhile, Alonso's right front is looking heavily grained and more tyres will surely be needed before the finish.

Lap 49: Hamilton leads by 2.4 seconds after that slip-up by Hulkenberg puts him down to second place. Button is 2.2 seconds behind the Force India.

Lap 49: Meteo France reports that the drops should end about now. Then, no new showers or drizzle to the end of the race.

Lap 50: Di Resta is still 11th but he is coming back to Kimi Raikkonen. A battle starts between the pair.

Lap 50: Alonso remains fourth and now 12.5 seconds off the lead and 7.6 behind the podium finish he needs should Vettel find more trouble.

Lap 51: Vettel does have some developing drama, with the radio not picking up his voice on the helmet microphone.

Lap 51: Rosberg comes into the pits. He takes on intermediate tyres and rejoins.

Lap 52: That stop promotes Pic to 12th position in the Marussia.

Lap 52: Vettel, still on for the title in seventh, is now 3.7 seconds behind Kobayashi's Sauber.

Lap 52: Hulkenberg hasn't given up on this one and is clocked just 1.5 seconds behind leader Hamilton.

Lap 53: Ricciardo pits from eighth place and he takes on slicks, but drops down the field to 14th.

Lap 53: Vettel is being called into the Red Bull pit.

Lap 53: Vergne has passed Pic and he takes 12th position in the Toro Rosso.

Lap 53: It's medium compound slicks for Vettel, despite the drizzle.

Lap 54: Vettel rejoins the race in 10th position.

Lap 54: Marshals are reporting slippery conditions at the end of the DRS zone as Vettel resumes.

Lap 54: Hamilton is now cutting through traffic with Hulkenberg right with the McLaren.

Lap 55: Raikkonen is exploring parts of the track others simply cannot reach. He goes off and tries to drive up an escape road in the hope of rejoining - only to find a gate at the end of it! He turns round and heads back before finally getting back on the prepared surface.

Lap 55: Hamilton's pace is dented by the back markers and they collide!

Lap 55: Hamilton is out of the race with a wheel off his McLaren.

Lap 55: Hulkenberg limps away and may also have damage from that collision.

Lap 55: Raikkonen has pitted from 17th position after taking that detour.

Lap 56: The pair were passing Glock and replays show a slide from Hulkenberg wobbled him into Hamilton's McLaren.

Lap 56: Button leads as further rain falls on this dramatic decider.

Lap 56: Kobayashi, Schumacher and Vettel all come into the pits! Vettel is 12th, after taking intermediates.

Lap 56: Alonso is show running third on the road and that's good news for his title hopes.

Lap 57: Alonso is struggling for grip now and won't be keen on pitting.

Lap 57: Hulkenberg has survived that contact with Hamilton and still runs second on the road.

Lap 57: Replays show that Vettel's stop was a disaster. A long delay on the right front, before he could get away.

Lap 57: Button's lead is 6.6 seconds as Alonso pits.

Lap 57: Vettel has passed Kobayashi and is up into ninth place, with others having stopped.

Lap 58: Intermediates go on Alonso's car while Button continues to lead on slicks.

Lap 58: Hulkenberg has been handed a drive-through penalty for that clash with Hamilton.

Lap 58: Vergne pits from eighth place, handing Vettel another spot.

Lap 58: Button pits for a change of tyres.

Lap 58: Intermediates this time for Button and he resumes in the lead.

Lap 58: Ricciardo, de la Rosa and Karthikeyan have all been into the pits this time round.

Lap 58: Hulkenberg is also in, making his tyre change. He will also have to visit the pits for that penalty.

Lap 58: Replays show that Kobayashi ran wide exiting Turn 4 and Vettel seized his chance. Vergne then pitted and the Red Bull driver is eighth.

Lap 58: Massa is yet to stop for intermediates and is currently second on the road.

Lap 58: Di Resta pits from seventh, promoting Vettel into that position.

Lap 59: Alonso is now third on the road having switched to intermediates.

Lap 59: Meteo France now reports that new rain has appeared, and that conditions will remain like this until the end of the race.

Lap 59: Alonso is clocked 16.5 seconds off the lead but will surely soon be ordered past Massa to take over second place.

Lap 59: Hulkenberg is in this time for his drive-through penalty.

Lap 60: Webber, still on slicks, is now up to fourth.

Lap 60: Vettel continues in seventh spot and currently on track for the title. He is 6.4s behind Schumacher.

Lap 60: Button leads on intermediates as Massa somehow survives the greasy conditions on slicks to run second, chased down by team-mate Alonso.

Lap 61: Webber is fourth, Hulkenberg has resumed in fifth, with Schumacher sixth and Vettel still in control with seventh.

Lap 61: The rain is falling a bit heavier now and there is spray now evident all round the circuit as the drivers battle on in these conditions.

Lap 61: Behind Vettel, Kobayashi is eighth with Vergne ninth, di Resta 10th, Raikkonen 11th and Ricciardo in 12th spot.

Lap 61: Button's lead is now 16.2 seconds from Massa, who is struggling for grip on slicks as further rain comes down.

Lap 61: Alonso, on intermediates, is closing on Massa to take over second place.

Lap 61: Hamilton arrives back in the McLaren garage. His final race for the team is over and he was given a warm round of applause.

Lap 61: More rain falling now and surely the slick-shod men will be forced into the pits soon.

Lap 62: Kovalainen has pitted and rejoins in 17th position.

Lap 62: Alonso is now right with Massa, and takes over second from his team-mate.

Lap 63: Schumacher continues in sixth, with Vettel closing the gap to three seconds. Kobayashi is eighth with Vergne ninth, di Resta 10th and Raikkonen 11th.

Lap 63: With Alonso up to second place, Vettel needs to make the flag in eighth or better. He is seventh for the moment.

Lap 64: Vettel is currently closing on sixth-place man Schumacher.

Lap 64: Button is comfortable out front in these conditions, leading by 21.2 seconds from Alonso.

Lap 65: Meanwhile, Vettel takes over sixth from Schumacher with an easy move past his retiring countryman.

Lap 65: Kobayashi remains in eighth place with Vergne ninth, di Resta 10th, Raikkonen 11th, Pic 12th and Petrov 13th.

Lap 66: In fact, Petrov in 13th is just 1.3s behind Pic and that vital 10th place in the constructors championship is well and truly on.

Lap 66: Alonso passes a vital scrap between Petrov and Pic.

Lap 66: Petrov makes a move on the back straight and he takes 12th place in the Caterham!

Lap 67: While Button is still under control out front as five laps remain in a phenomenal Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lap 67: Despite Alonso running second, Vettel remains on course for the title if it finishes like this.

Lap 68: Schumacher continues in seventh. He has Kobayashi on his tail, as di Resta passes Vergne for ninth with four laps to go.

Lap 69: So Vergne drops to 10th, with Raikkonen 11th and Petrov holding onto 12th. Pic is 13th but Ricciardo is catching them.

Lap 70: Two laps remain in a thrilling end to the 2012 season.

Lap 70: Kobayashi has spun at Turn 4 and he loses ninth to Vergne.

Lap 70: Replays show that Kobayashi tried a move up the inside of Schumacher and the pair made contact, with the Japanese spinning.

Lap 71: The safety car has been deployed.

Lap 71: Di Resta has crashed at the Subida dos Boxes and there is damage to the Force India.

Lap 71: Big shunt for di Resta there and that surely cements the result.

Lap 71: Replays show that the Scot lost control of the car under acceleration up the hill towards start-finish and snapped sideways, hitting the barrier.

Lap 71: Button is now touring around to take the victory, with Vettel on course for title success.

Lap 71: The safety car will pit, allowing a racing finish.

Lap 71: Raikkonen moves up to 10th, Petrov to 11th, Pic to 12th and Ricciardo to 13th place. There will be wild celebrations at Caterham soon.

17:48 Jenson Button wins the Brazilian Grand Prix!

17:48 Another masterful performance from the 2009 champion in tricky conditions, once again perfectly judging his tyre changes.

17:48 Alonso grabs a brilliant second place but that's not enough for the title if Vettel makes the flag.

17:48 It's third for Massa after a great drive from the Brazilian in front of his home crowd.

17:48 Webber takes fourth for Red Bull, while it is fifth for one time race leader Hulkenberg. But...

17:48 Sebastian Vettel is the 2012 Formula 1 world champion!

17:49 Sixth place is enough for Vettel to become triple champion, after surviving a dramatic race afternoon in Brazil.

17:49 A fabulous achievement for the German. Behind him, Schumacher ends his Formula 1 career with a seventh place finish, with Vergne eighth.

17:50 Vettel is clearly emotional on the team radio as he celebrates becoming the youngest ever three-time champion.

17:50 Kobayashi comes across in ninth place and Raikkonen scores the final point in 10th spot.

17:51 Out of the points, but Caterham won't care. Petrov finishes in 11th place to secure that all-important 10th in the constructors' battle.

17:52 Vettel hugs the retiring Schumacher while clearly reflecting on the scale of his achievement.

17:52 Pic was 12th after a gritty drive in the Marussia, with Ricciardo 13th, Kovalainen 14th, Rosberg 15th, Glock 16th and de la Rosa 17th.

17:53 Alonso reflects on what could have been after a sensational season from the Spanaird, keeping the Ferrari in contention right to the wire.

17:53 Karthikeyan was 18th in the other HRT, while di Resta, who caused that final safety car intervention, was classified in 19th spot.

17:55 Five drivers retired from today's Brazilian Grand Prix:

Lewis Hamilton was inadvertently knocked out of the race by Nico Hulkenberg at the Senna S, as they battled for the lead.

Grosjean exited stage right as he ploughed off at Mergulho in the early stages, while Maldonado, Senna and Perez were all casualties on that amazing first lap.

17:56 The top three drivers walk out onto the podium and God Save the Queen rings out for today's winners - Jenson Button and McLaren.

17:57 Button is delighted as he picks up the winners trophy for coming out on top of a dramatic Brazilian finale.

17:57 Alonso receives his award for second place. So near and yet so far for the Spaniard after an epic season. The tifosi should be proud.

17:58 Wild home celebrations from Massa's home fans as he picks up the third place trophy.

17:58 The champagne sprays on the podium at the end of an unbelievable race. Alonso ensures that team-mate Massa gets a soaking.

17:59 The top three stand atop the podium for the traditional end-of-race photograph, as the celebrations kick off downstairs in the Red Bull garage.

18:00 Nelson Piquet Sr. is on hand to interview the podium finishers.

18:01 281 points bag Vettel his third consecutive world crown, with Alonso finishing second just three points behind.

18:02 It's a brilliant third in the standings for the ever-consistent Kimi Raikkonen, aided by the retirement of Hamilton, who ends the year 4th.

18:03 A win for Button takes him up to fifth in the final standings, but it isn't enough to stop Ferrari taking second place in the constructors'

18:04 Caterham are the big winners in the final constructors' standings with that vital 11th place finish for Petrov handing them 10th.

18:05 Finishing 10th once again is a big cash bonus for Caterham, while it is heartbreak at Marussia as they are demoted to 11th.

18:06 Stick with AUTOSPORT for all the reaction to a thrilling final 2012 race in Brazil.

18:08 Well, where do you start? That was unbelievable action from start to finish. Light drizzle shaped the race as Hamilton blasted off into the lead and all hell broke loose behind him.

Vettel was involved in an altercation with Senna at the Descida do Lago and dropped all the way to last position, but the German showed his fighting qualities today and hauled himself through the pack to claim a third straight drivers' title.

Up front, the McLaren pair were being given a real headache by Nico Hulkenberg, who drove a great race, until he unfortunately lost control while battling for the lead against Hamilton, tipping the Briton into retirement in his final race for McLaren.

Jenson Button then came through to win, with Alonso doing all he could with the Ferrari that was underneath him. The Spaniard is the bridesmaid yet again, but he drove with passion throughout a hard campaign.

One final word of note for Caterham, who engaged in a great scrap down the field with Marussia, finally coming out on top in the battle for 10th in the constructors' championship.

But it's Vettel's and Red Bull's day and the resultant party is set to go on long into the night.

This was the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix on AUTOSPORT Live. Thanks for joining us over the last three days of action. We will be back with the AUTOSPORT Awards from central London next Sunday evening.

Race length: 71 laps
Rain High Temp: 22°C / 72°F
Track: Lightly wet
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Friday 23 Nov Start GMT
 Friday practice one 11:55
 Friday practice two 15:55
Saturday 24 Nov
 Saturday practice 12:55
 Qualifying 15:50
Sunday 25 Nov
 The Brazilian Grand Prix 15:45