Jenson Button finally bowed out of the 2010 F1 world championship battle despite a battling fifth place at the same Interlagos circuit where he claimed the 2009 title.
The Briton had to come from eleventh on the grid after another disappointing qualifying session on Saturday, but benefited from both good McLaren strategy - which saw him make a late second tyre stop under the safety car - and an MP4-25 that he claimed was the best it had been all weekend to move up the order and chase team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag.
Sadly, with the remaining title contenders all finishing ahead of him on the road, Button's slim hopes of remaining in the hunt - something he had earlier admitted relied on his rivals crashing into each other - finally went out, but he admitted that he had enjoyed the race, which McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh described as 'typically canny'.
"I won the drivers' world championship in Brazil last year, and I lost it here this year, but it was a good way to lose the world championship," he conceded, having set the third fastest lap of the 71-lap affair on his very last tour, “I had a great race today and had a lot of fun fighting my way through the field.
"We finally sorted the car out for the race, and I had some pretty decent pace. I made some great passing moves, and the team made a couple of perfect calls on strategy. From where I started, I couldn't have done any better, so it feels good to have finished fifth."
The 30-year old had also been subjected to an attempted armed robbery as he left the circuit on Saturday evening, but put that behind him as he charged up the order in much the same fashion as he had twelve months ago when rising from 14th to fifth and claiming the crown with Brawn GP. Accepting that he now had no chance of retaining his title, and suggesting that team-mate Hamilton was in need of a miracle, Button said that he was looking forward to next weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi - another circuit where he enjoyed a strong showing in 2009.
"I'm out of it now, so I'll treat the final race much as I treated this one, just have fun and try to enjoy it," he confirmed, “Although Lewis can still win the drivers' world championship, the top three drivers will have to fare badly for it to happen, so I guess it'll be difficult for him, but, all in all, it's been a pretty good season."
Two early wins had propelled Button to the top of the championship standings but, although his podium form tailed off as the year went on, he insists that his first campaign with Woking's finest had laid solid foundations for another crack at the title.
"It was a learning year, good practice for next year, and I firmly believe we can really build on this for the 2011 season," he maintained, "McLaren is a really strong team – in fact, I don't think there's any team stronger than us.”