Sebastian Vettel overtook polesitter Valtteri Bottas into the first corner as he claimed victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The German's slim hopes of winning the drivers' title were ended in Mexico a fortnight ago, Lewis Hamilton finishing ninth in that race to clinch his fourth crown.
But, with the Englishman starting from the pit lane, Vettel stole a march on Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate from lights out and faced little threat to his lead throughout.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for Bottas thanks to the questionable timing of Vettel's pit stop, but the former Red Bull man re-emerged just in front of the Finn and opened up a lead once more.
Hamilton, meanwhile, made swift progress through the field and led for a period - during a flurry of pit stops for the frontrunners - but was ultimately unable to earn an unlikely podium finish.
Bottas had to settle for the runner-up spot for a second successive race, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen completing the top three.
Williams' Felipe Massa - competing in his final Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his retirement at the end of the season - was the best of the rest behind F1's power trio of teams, following Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo home in seventh.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE FOR VETTEL
Victory for Vettel was not met with the level of jubilation one might expect from a race winning driver or team.
Celebrations on team radio were muted and the hangover from their championship collapse was understandably still being felt.
Vettel is not yet assured of second place in the drivers' championship – sitting 22 points clear of third-placed Bottas – but an eighth-place finish in Abu Dhabi would be enough to emerge victorious from that particular battle.
VET: "I had a chance to squeeze down the inside at the start and tried to control the race from there. I'm pleased for the guys back home who have been working so hard" #BrazilGP pic.twitter.com/TBEZTUDWA1— Formula 1 (@F1) November 12, 2017
HAMILTON IMPRESSES FROM THE PIT LANE
Hamilton's early progress evoked memories of Verstappen's heroic charge through the field to take third place at this circuit last year.
The conditions couldn't have been more different – glorious sunshine compared to the downpour of 2016.
Three retirements on the opening lap aided Hamilton's cause and he was into the top 10 by the end of lap nine.
He was unable to finish the job by picking off Raikkonen for third, but it was a mightily impressive drive – the Mercedes man hot on the heels Ferrari driver in the closing laps.
GOODBYE (AGAIN) TO MASSA
We've been here before.
Felipe Massa "retired" at the end of last season before being lured back after Bottas left Williams for the Silver Arrows.
He didn't finish the race at Interlagos in 2016, so it was nice to see the veteran go out on a high, holding off Fernando Alonso on the final lap to finish seventh.
Alonso applauded Massa into the pits after the race and the former Ferrari driver climbed to the top step of the podium to wave goodbye to his adoring home fans.
Massa's encore will come in Abu Dhabi, but this was his true send off.
IN THE POINTS
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +2.762s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +4.600s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +5.468s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +32.940
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +48.691s
7. Felipe Massa (Williams) +68.882s
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +69.363s
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) +69.500s
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) + +1 lap
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 345
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 302 (-43)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 280 (-65)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 200 (-145)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 193 (-152)
1. Mercedes 625
2. Ferrari 495 (-130)
3. Red Bull 358 (-267)
4. Force India 177 (-448)
5. Williams 82 (-543)
The season comes to an end with the final race of 2017 at Yas Marina Circuit in a fortnight.
|Korea change sees Bertens take title in Seoul|
|I love Bilic, but I let him down – Arnautovic|
|He will never fight me! Fury hits out at ´ponderous´ Joshua|
|Azpilicueta convinced Hazard can be ´the best´|
|Wigglesworth´s career in Opta numbers as he breaks Premiership record|
|Ronaldo has nothing to prove, says Allegri|
|Federer shines as Europe hold narrow lead at Laver Cup|
|Astros, Yankees and Indians record dramatic wins|
|Pliskova too strong for Osaka in Tokyo final|
|Kyle Busch comes from behind to win again in Virginia|
|Dybala can play as a striker – Allegri|
|Pochettino never doubts ´special´ Kane|
|NASCAR results at Richmond: Kyle Busch comes from behind to win again in Virginia|
|McIlroy just worried about himself at Tour Championship|
|MLS Review: Atlanta stay clear of Red Bulls|
|Rose reminds everyone Woods has been here before|
|Cronk in doubt for Grand Final due to ´severe´ shoulder injury|
|Timberwolves sign Towns to extension|
|Hearn wants Wilder for Joshua, not ´un-entertaining´ Fury|
|Woods pleased with putting consistency|
|Ballon d´Or not a focus for Asensio|
|Man City star Mendy revels in Joshua triumph|
|Braves clinch first NL East title since 2013|
|I want Wilder, says Joshua|
|Inter must live on the edge to win, says jubilant Spalletti|
|Woods leads by three at Tour Championship|
|Bordeaux end Clermont´s perfect start, Zebo at double in Racing win|
|Lopetegui not worried about Courtois footwork|
|Joshua finds emphatic answer to Povetkin challenge|
|BREAKING NEWS: Brutal Joshua knocks out Povetkin in seventh round|
|Real Madrid can´t win 5-0 every week - Varane|
|Al Ahly 4 Horoya 0 (4-0 agg): Egyptian giants reach CAF Champions League semi-finals|
|Kings upset Warriors, Leinster batter Edinburgh|
|Son committed to Tottenham amid Bayern links|
|Simeone hails Atleti´s best LaLiga display of the season|
|Kovac: Bayern ´dominated´ Schalke in 2-0 win|
|Pochettino unimpressed with Tottenham´s tense finish|
|Campbell gains revenge as Price is halted by injury|
|Tottenham fatigue rumours are a myth, claims Rose|
|Widnes defiant after Super League relegation, Saints outclass Wolves|
|NFL must go back to college to eradicate the tie|
|Real Madrid 1 Espanyol 0: Asensio downs old club to earn narrow win|
|Sampdoria 0 Inter 1: Brozovic wins it late after VAR takes centre stage|
|Rudy takes blame for James goal in Bayern win|
|Tiger charges into four-shot lead|
|Players have given their lives to Burnley - Dyche|
|QPR 0 Norwich City 1: Pukki hits winner as hot streak continues|
|Nuno proud of Wolves character in Man United draw|
|Playing for England my dream, says in-form Maddison|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Tottenham 2: Kane on target as Spurs issue firm response|
|Schalke 0 Bayern Munich 2: James and Lewandowski deliver another win|
|Getafe 0 Atletico Madrid 2: Lemar inspires routine win|
|Championship Review: Monk ruins Leeds´ unbeaten streak, McGinn screamer fails to save Villa|
|Bale benched for Real Madrid-Espanyol|
|Biggar fails to rescue Saints at Bath, Bristol and Wasps win|
|Zaha affected by back injury – Hodgson|
|Mourinho slams Manchester United attitude after Wolves stalemate|
|Herbert holds Portugal Masters advantage|
|Warnock blasts ´elementary´ Cardiff mistakes|
|Shaqiri substitution not easy for Klopp|
|Guardiola hopes for even more to come from Aguero|
|Fellaini accepts United closing gap to Premier League summit will be difficult|
|Klizan to face Thiem in St. Petersburg final, Bachinger shocks Nishikori|
|Klopp: Van Dijk injury not serious|
|Mourinho annoyed by Man Utd´s blunt attack in Wolves draw|
|Valverde not ready to consider Barca contract extension|
|Gattuso wary of wounded Atalanta as Higuain receives further advice|
|Burnley 4 Bournemouth 0: Rampant Clarets claim first Premier League win of the season|
|Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle United 0: Sakho misses sitter as Magpies remain winless|
|Cardiff City 0 Manchester City 5: Aguero celebrates new deal with goal in 300th game|