Juan Montoya may have won the Brazilian Grand Prix, beating McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to the line to end the team's 1-2 drought, but the accolades at Interlagos were mainly directed at Fernando Alonso, whose third place was enough to make him the youngest-ever world champion.
Montoya led from almost from start to finish, headed initially by poleman Alonso and then only seeing Raikkonen ease ahead owing to their different strategies. Alonso, meanwhile, ran second having been passed by Montoya at an early restart, before eventually succumbing to Raikkonen's charge from fifth on the grid. Secure in third, however, the Spaniard was able to take a risk-free approach to ending his year's ambition, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari too far adrift to be in a position to steal away the podium finish required to end the title race in Brazil.
In truth, the race was largely uneventful, perhaps symbolising the anti-climactic end to the title fight itself, with action at start and finish to provide talking points, and little else of note - save Tiago Monteiro's first F1 retirement - in the middle.
The 71-lap event began with a bang - literally. Barely had the tension on the grid finished crackling as the cars set off for the first lap than the pitwall was treated to a close-up view of both Williams-BMWs heading into apparent retirement, along with David Coulthard's Red Bull-Cosworth.
The Scot had made a good start from his 15th grid slot behind the two white machines, and thought he spotted a gap between them as the field headed into turn one. Unfortunately, he had misread Antonio Pizzonia's trajectory and, as the Brazilian edged across the road, DC's front wheel caught the Brazilian's rear, turning the Williams through 90-degrees - and directly into Mark Webber's similar car.
The Australian had been largely minding his own business after what he had described as an 'okay' start, and was at least able to limp back to the pits as his assailants parked up and pulled out. On returning to pit-lane, reporting bodywork damage, however, Webber's car promptly caught light, and it was only swift work by the Williams crew that allowed work to be carried out and the Australian to return to race in the hope of salvaging a half-decent qualifying slot for Suzuka.
The widespread amount of debris coating the start-finish straight naturally prompted the arrival of the safety car, Alonso's early lead negated as the marshals did their work. The Spaniard had made a good getaway to lead Montoya into the Senna S for the first time, while Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella quelled an early uprising from Raikkonen, as the Finn attempted to use the kerb and more to steal third. The Italian's defence only held for a short while, however, as his compromised line saw him run wide a couple of corners later, with Michael Schumacher also able to take advantage and pinch fourth place.
Quick work by the track staff saw the safety car ready to withdraw by the end of lap two, and Alonso played the restart to perfection, bunching the field behind him and then flooring it past the pits to open up a handy advantage into the first corner. His pace, however, was a little too much for the left-hander and, as the Renault washed wide, Montoya was straight back on its tail. The Colombian had to wait until turn four to make the move stick, but the shape of the race was determined there and then, as Alonso ceded meekly, one eye already on the title permutations.
Further back, Raikkonen found himself too far back to also take advantage of the leader's error, but had enough in hand to keep out of the reach of the battle for fourth, which was settled in Fisichella's favour as Schumacher's Ferrari struggled to get heat back into its Bridgestones after the safety car period.