Nico Rosberg recorded his eighth career victory in the sport and ended Lewis Hamilton’s five-race winning form by beating his Mercedes team-mate at Interlagos.
By converting his tenth pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season into victory, Rosberg reduced the points lead down to 17 heading into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix double-points finale.
Hamilton’s hopes of challenging Rosberg’s supremacy went undone when he half spun at the Descida do Lago on lap 28 of 71.
The Mercedes driver ran wide after correcting a snap of oversteer as he braked for the corner. Lewis subsequently revealed over the radio that he had wound his brake bias too far to the rear.
Hamilton hustled superbly to recover the time lost to Rosberg, and put him under pressure by remaining within DRS range during a frantic final stint (in which both drivers exchanged fastest laps), but ultimately Hamilton had to settle for second.
Home crowd favourite Felipe Massa brought smiles to the faces of the passionate fans by completing the podium.
The Williams driver survived a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane at his first stop, and the embarrassment of accidentally driving into the McLaren pit at his last, to finish third.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas should have been well-placed to capitalise on Massa’s errors, after running fourth early on, but a lengthy delay at his first pitstop set him back badly, and he lost more time when Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India forced him wide while overtaking into the Senna S.
Bottas eventually finished in a lapped tenth.
McLaren’s Jenson Button took that fourth place with a brave pass around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari at the Descida do Lago with ten laps to the flag.
Their side-by-side duelling also allowed world champion Sebastian Vettel to nip through into fifth in his Red Bull.
Vettel might have finished higher but lost ground while battling Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren on the opening lap, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo retired shortly before half-distance with a left front suspension failure.
Raikkonen started tenth and dropped behind the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez on the opening lap, but made progress by being the only driver to complete the race on two pitstops.
The Iceman lost time to what appeared to be a front jack problem at his second stop, and defended desperately in a battle of world champions with Fernando Alonso in the closing stages, but ultimately couldn’t prevent his Ferrari team-mate passing him for sixth with a couple of laps to run.
Hulkenberg made good use of alternative tyre strategy – running the soft tyre at the end – to finish eighth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren and Bottas, who just held off Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat to claim the final point.
So the championship goes down to the wire at Abu Dhabi, featuring that controversial double points.
Lewis Hamilton will win the title by just finishing in second position no matter if Nico Rosberg wins. But the question remains the reliability of his Mercedes W05 Hybrid.
If will be a major upset if Hamilton, who scores the most victories with ten, loses out to the championship due to the gimmick over the double points at the season finale.
Bring on the championship showdown.
Brazilian Grand Prix, after 71 laps:
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h30m02.555s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.457s
3 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 41.031s
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 48.658s
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 51.420s
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m01.906s
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m03.730s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m03.934s
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m10.085s
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1 Lap
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1 Lap
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1 Lap
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1 Lap
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 8 Laps
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault Front suspension failure
1 Lewis Hamilton 334
2 Nico Rosberg 317
3 Daniel Ricciardo 214
4 Sebastian Vettel 159
5 Fernando Alonso 157
6 Valtteri Bottas 156
7 Jenson Button 106
8 Felipe Massa 98
9 Nico Hulkenberg 80
10 Kevin Magnussen 55
11 Kimi Raikkonen 53
12 Sergio Perez 47
13 Jean-Eric Vergne 22
14 Romain Grosjean 8
15 Daniil Kvyat 8
16 Pastor Maldonado 2
17 Jules Bianchi 2
18 Adrian Sutil 0
19 Marcus Ericsson 0
20 Esteban Gutierrez 0
21 Max Chilton 0
22 Kamui Kobayashi 0
1 Mercedes 651
2 Red Bull-Renault 373
3 Williams-Mercedes 254
4 Ferrari 210
5 McLaren-Mercedes 161
6 Force India-Mercedes 127
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 30
8 Lotus-Renault 10
9 Marussia-Ferrari 2
10 Sauber-Ferrari 0
11 Caterham/Renault 0
Next race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina. November 21-23.