The 2012 Formula One World Championship was surely the most action-packed season in well over a decade - and the most entertaining.
Teams found a new level of competitiveness, pushed along by stabilised rules that gave each a fighting chance to match rivals, resulting in often surprising victories.
Vettel's triumph was hard-won but right up until two or three races from the end, it was a several horse race. Something almost unheard of in modern F1.
To round out the season, we've compiled a brief team wrap-up.
Of their three consecutive driver's and constructor's championships, 2012 was Red Bull's hardest.
It took until the second last race in the season, the US Grand Prix, to clinch the constructor's title and Vettel, as in 2010, was pushed to the final race for his title.
Reliability problems hounded the team this year, courtesy of Renault alternators and some unusually poor form from the RB8. The final few races, though, were a masterclass, with the exception of Vettel's messy Brazilian GP weekend.
The season truly went down to the wire and, while Vettel won it, he had to rely a little bit on luck and was not as dominant as he was the previous two seasons.
Mark Webber's early season consistency and mid-season form deserted him and it was a long trudge to the end for the Australian.
The 'red team' started the year with the third or even fourth-best car, but they had the best driver on the planet at their disposal. That Fernando Alonso took the title to Brazil is a phenomenal achievement.
Alonso led a team that appeared rudderless at times, and clearly would have been beached without him. He kept his nerve the whole year however, pushing the Scuderia forward. This may have been Alonso's defining year.
His teammate, Felipe Massa, contrasted the Spaniard's speed with a pretty hopeless first half of the season. The Brazilian was staring down the barrel of a sacking, but a brilliant second at Suzuka delivered him a 2013 contract.
It was not a happy camp for much of the year. Jenson Button's growing self-assuredness and Hamilton's worsening luck was compounded by a declining relationship with his team (becoming a kind of public passive aggression).
By year's end, the younger Brit had signed on with Mercedes.
Button came within two points of the formerly deified Hamilton in the drivers' standings while Lewis' petulant behaviour on Twitter and in contract negotiations won him few friends.
Conversely, the worse it was off-track, the better Hamilton was on it, storming to victory in Hungary.
Kimi Raikkonen's comeback was sniffily denounced as a stunt by many in the paddock, believing the Finn didn't have what it takes to continue in F1. How wrong they were.
Despite early season dramas with a car not set up for the left-handed Raikkonen, once the Enstone team worked out the problem, Lotus threatened at nearly every race, and then won in Abu Dhabi.
Sadly, some of the threats came from the nose cone of "first lap nutcase" Romain Grosjean (thank you for that one, Mark Webber).
Benched after the Belgian Grand Prix for arguably ending Alonso's championship, Grosjean was fast but erratic, cleaining up too many drivers and destroying a lot of carbon fibre.
Rumours are flying the Frenchman will be replaced by Kobayashi for 2013.
Raikkonen also gave us one of the season's most memorable moments, yelling at his team, "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing," on his way to victory.
Michael Schumacher's awful season became his swansong, the German veteran making way for Lewis Hamilton for 2013.
Outclassed by Nico Rosberg (himself shown the way by Mark Webber back at Williams), Schumacher spent the year running into people far less talented than he and made the right choice to depart.
The team did get its long-awaited first victory at the hands of Nico Rosberg in Shanghai, but from then on it was a slide into obscurity and a battle to stay ahead of Sauber and Force India.
Sauber's year was regularly sabotaged by circumstance, most famously at the Belgian Grand Prix. Grosjean's flying Lotus took out both of the Swiss entrants who had qualified at the sharp end and were looking good for a win.
Sergio Perez took on Alonso in Malaysia and it was a competition as to whose win was the most unlikely.
In the end, the Mexican spun, but not before impressing McLaren enough to end up at the top of their shopping list.
Both Perez and Kobayashi are gone from Sauber, but Perez is on the way up to McLaren while Kobayashi is looking for a seat, replaced by Esteban Gutierrez.
The Indian team had a good year despite their owner, Vijay Mallya, landing himself in hot water over his Kingfisher Airline's failure.
Finishing ahead of Williams and with Nico Hulkenberg regularly surprising with great qualifying and good race pace, it was only a matter of time before Ferrari took an interest.
Due to Massa staying, Ferrari instead parachuted the German into the spare seat at Sauber. Paul di Resta probably has one season left to impress after a mostly indifferent 2012.
One can't help thinking that with two better, more experienced drivers, Williams would have had a far better year.
One can't argue with Maldonado's impressive win in Spain but for most of the rest of the season, there is little argument - neither driver really capitalised on the first good Williams in eight years.
The writing was on the wall for Bruno Senna from the day Valtteri Bottas was announced as the Friday driver.
It was a snub reminiscent of Jacques Villeneuve's thousands of kilometres of testing before the 1996 season while the team undermined race drivers Hill and Coulthard during the '95 campaign.
Senna had to sit and watch the promising young Finn drive his car (rather better, it must be said), robbing the Brazilian of track time.
Pastor Maldonado remains with his huge backing from the Venezuelan government and business community but will be pushed very hard by Bottas.
STR had a reasonable year by their own standards, scrapping it out with the backmarkers for points.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo came out on top in the intra-team battle with Jean Eric Vergne, but only just. He'll need to impress in 2013 if he's to progress to Red Bull.
On the last lap of the last race, the departing Vitaly Petrov squeezed all he could from his Caterham to clinch 10th place in the championship and a significant cash boost for the team.
Kovalainen is out and if Petrov stays, will be partnered by Charles Pic.
The Russian team improved vastly over the year, closing the gap from 4.5 seconds per lap to the front-runners to a little over two seconds.
It wasn't enough to beat Caterham, or keep Charles Pic.
It seems Pedro de la Rosa was sold a dummy to move to HRT from a McLaren test role. The team was woeful, underfunded and appears to have died.
Narain Karthikeyan who made little impact on the season, apart from the occasional backmarker row, and is unlikely to return if the team survives.