Jenson Button could hardly have been more removed from the disconsolate figure he cut in the Austin paddock a week ago, as he celebrated taking McLaren's best result of a difficult year in the Interlagos finale.

Having insisted that he needed to go away and take a good look at himself after struggling in the USGP, Button arrived in Brazil in a better frame of mind - only to be deflated again after registering only 15th place in qualifying. That became 14th when team-mate Sergio Perez took a grid penalty, before a decision to start the race on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds paid dividends with a rapid rise up the order.

Quickly into the points positions, Button found that he could race with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, eventually finding himself running behind countryman Lewis Hamilton and on course for a top five finish. When the Mercedes was then penalised for a clash with Valtteri Bottas' Williams, Button moved into fourth place, and held the spot to the end, recording McLaren's highest finish of the year.

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It may not have been the podium that Button had said he was chasing in the build-up to the race, but maintained McLaren's record of having had a top four finish in each of its seasons in the top flight and, along with team-mate Perez's run from 19th to sixth, provided a welcome morale boost to all at Woking as F1 moves into a new era in 2014.

"I'm pleased to have finished fourth - it's almost the podium position that I came here aiming for," the 2009 world champion exclaimed, "I'm also pleased for 'Checo'. He won't be with us next year, but he drove a great race today.

"We really needed today's result, as the 2013 season hasn't been an easy one. It's been tough for all of us at the circuits, but it's probably been even tougher for the guys back at the factory, working flat-out to make parts. They're a really amazing bunch of totally passionate and utterly dedicated people, and they richly deserve the 'lift' that today's result will have given them.

"This is a great way to end the year, and now our focus turns squarely to 2014. McLaren is an incredibly strong and powerful organisation - and, believe me, we will fight back."

Next season will see a lot of change around Button, with McLaren saying goodbye not only to his current team-mate, but also to its title sponsor.

"I want to say a big 'thank you' to Vodafone," the Briton noted, "They have been an absolutely incredible title partner, and we've also had a lot of fun together - both on and off the track. Some of the videos they made with us have been truly brilliant and I'm sad to see them leave, but I guess nothing lasts forever."

For team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the double top six finish represented a high point in a season of lows.

"Undoubtedly, that was our best grand prix of the year," he smiled, "It's frustrating to have to say that after a race in which our drivers finished only fourth and sixth, but it's also true.

"Moreover, the manner in which those results were achieved was heartening indeed: both Jenson and Checo had difficulties in qualifying, through no fault of their own, but the way they charged through the field from their lowly grid slots this afternoon was seriously impressive. It also illustrated very creditable race pace, which was good to see."

The Woking team may not have stood on the podium in 2013, but its lack of performance was at least outweighed by incredible reliability, breaking Sauber's 2008 record for laps covered as it got both cars to the finish of every grand prix.

"As of today, McLaren became the first team in F1 history to have both its cars classified in every grand prix during the season," Whitmarsh confirmed, "And, also as of today, McLaren completed 99.17% of the season's total possible race distance - 7139 miles out of a possible 7198 miles - which is not only better than every other team managed this season, but is also a new world record, beating the previous 98.30%.

"2013 been a long, hard and disappointing year, so I want to take this opportunity to pay particular tribute to our trackside mechanics and engineers, who are, without doubt, the best in the pit-lane."

That level of reliability may be crucial in the early part of next season, as F1 moves into a new technical era, and McLaren will not be taking time out to rest on its laurels in Brazil.

"F1 is a relentlessly demanding sport, and next season's new regulations are already presenting all the teams with a daunting array of technical challenges - not only powertrains but aerodynamics, too," Whitmarsh concluded, "For quite some time, we've been working extremely hard on those technical challenges, and our focus will be unstinting and unwavering from now onwards, throughout the winter. In other words, the 2014 season starts this evening!"