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Sebastian Vettel overcame a first-lap crash to clinch his third straight Formula One championship title on Sunday, finishing sixth in an incident-filled Brazilian Grand Prix won by Jenson Button under pouring rain.
Vettel looked to be in big trouble after he was bumped into shortly after the lap and spun around, dropping to last place before being able to turn his car around and start a difficult pursuit. But he steadily worked his way up the field and did what he needed to hold off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the only other driver contending for the title.
Alonso had a superb start on a hectic first lap at Interlagos and finished second, but that wasn't enough to erase Vettel's 13-point lead in the standings, as the German became the youngest three-time champion in Formula One at age 25.
Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was third in front of his home crowd, and cried on the podium after finishing a difficult season on a high.
Lewis Hamilton was leading in his final race with McLaren when Nico Hulkenberg crashed into him while trying to make a pass on a slippery track with 17 laps to go.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, F1's most successful driver, finished seventh in his final race after 19 seasons.
The race was dramatic from the start but had an anticlimactic finish behind the safety car after Paul Di Resta crashed just before the final lap. Vettel is the first driver with three titles in a row since Schumacher won five straight from 2000-04. The only other driver to win at least three consecutive championships was Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954-57.
He needed to finish fourth or better to clinch the title regardless of where Alonso crossed the line. The Spaniard would only have a chance by finishing on the podium.