Jenson Button finally has his hands on the Formula One world title following a pulsating Brazilian Grand Prix.
A combination of brilliant driving and dramatic incidents elevated Button into fifth place, with his title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello finishing fourth and eighth respectively.
Button now becomes the 10th British driver to claim motor sport’s greatest prize, inheriting the crown from last year’s winner Lewis Hamilton.
The 29-year-old may not have wrapped it up in the way he would have liked, having won six of the first seven races, but he is now world champion.
On a stunning day for Brawn GP, they also claimed the constructors’ title just over 10 months after they appeared to be on the scrapheap when Honda pulled out of the sport.
As Button crossed the line after 71 remarkable laps at Interlagos he broke into a rendition of Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions,’ before repeating the boast ‘We’re champions, we’re champions.’
A euphoric Button told BBC1: “It’s really amazing, especially after the last few races I’ve had. This makes up for it, it was such an awesome race and I’m world champion, baby!
“Twenty-one years ago I jumped in a car and I loved winning. I never expected to be world champion in F1 but we’ve done it today.”
Red Bull’s Mark Webber grabbed the win ahead of BMW Sauber’s Kubica, the Australian ending a run of five successive races without scoring a point.
Hamilton was a stunning third from 17th on the grid, with Vettel fourth, Button fifth, Kimi Raikkonen sixth in his Ferrari and Sebastien Buemi a fine seventh for Toro Rosso.
It was a stunningly dramatic start to the race as Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil of Force India almost came to blows after a first-lap collision that them sent both crashing into retirement.
Attempting to pass Sutil around the outside, Trulli put a wheel onto the grass which sent him spinning into the back of the German’s car.
As Trulli struck a wall, Sutil went careering across the infield, his momentum taking him back onto the track where he was struck for a second time, on this occasion by Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who was also forced out of the race.
Trulli angrily confronted Sutil but Sutil said: “I think it was quite obvious he was on the outside and he lost control of his car and crashed into me.
“It was very strange he came to me and blamed me for the incident because he just crashed into me.”
The accident brought out the safety car at the end of the first lap which culminated in more drama in the pit lane.
Heikki Kovalainen had been caught up in an incident with Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella at the back of the field as they made their way through the initial Senna S.
Fellow Finn and 2007 world champion Raikkonen, starting from fifth on the grid, had also had his problems as he had sustained a broken front wing and left-rear puncture in a separate issue.
With both forced into the pits, Kovalainen exited with the fuel hose still attached to his car and as he made his way down the pit lane, the stray hose sprayed fuel onto Raikkonen’s car directly behind him, causing a flash fire.
Raikkonen came through it unharmed, whilst Kovalainen pulled over outside the Brawn garage where the mechanics removed the hose.
In all the mayhem, Button had moved up from 14th to ninth by the end of a first lap led by Barrichello, who had made a clean getaway from pole.
The 29-year-old put in a charge, swiftly passing Renault’s Romain Grosjean and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, who later suffered his own drama on lap 31.
In attempting to pass Kamui Kobayashi, Nakajima hit the left rear tyre of the Toyota debutant.
Nakajima was fortunate his car was not propelled into the air as it momentarily reared up before crashing back down.
He then hit a barrier before powering on across the grass, gravel and the track before slamming into a tyre wall.
In between, Barrichello lost his lead in the first round of pit stops, actually dropping to third behind Webber and Kubica.
And from that moment it all went wrong, in contrast to Button as the race and the title came to him.
He pulled off another great manoeuvre on Buemi at one stage and the championship was ultimately in the bag when Barrichello pitted late on for a third time due to a slow puncture.
From that moment it was a cruise to the line for Button, who was ecstatic after emerging from his car.
Barrichello was the first to congratulate his team-mate as they gave each other a bear hug and slaps on the back.
Emotional team boss Ross Brawn broke down in tears after the race, barely able to comprehend the size of his achievement.
A choked Brawn said: “It’s still got to sink in.
“It will take a while… It’s just special. Very special.
“The work the team did over the winter….all the people who couldn’t be with us because we had to re-size the team after the winter, my thanks go to them.
“I hope they have enjoyed it because they have been part of what we’ve done.”
Hamilton graciously acknowledged Button’s achievement as he said: “I must say congratulations to Jenson. A great job. A great season.”
Webber, even after the second victory of his career, offered his congratulations to Button.
“Jenson deserves the championship,” said the Australian.
“He certainly drove well in the early part of the season. He’s done a good job so I’d like to congratulate him and Brawn.
“He can sleep better now because he’s been absolutely bricking it after the last few races. He can enjoy Abu Dhabi (the final grand prix on November 1).”
Button added on BBC1: “The last few races have been a bit stressful for me. I didn’t win the race today but I came through.
“It’s the most amazing day and I thank the fans for their support, and most of all a big thank you to my family and my girlfriend Jessica.”
He added: “Yesterday after qualifying I felt sick because of how tough it was but it made it all better today.”