Jenson Button won the Japanese Grand Prix but, as the Suzuka spectator's sign confirmed, "Today is Vettel's day".
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel mathematically clinched his second consecutive title by finishing third, also behind Fernando Alonso.
"We would have loved to win it but Sebastian is world champion," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner on BBC 1 television.
Vettel, despite failing to win a fourth consecutive race on the trot, was emotional as he thanked his team in the post-race press conference: "Sorry this (speech) is so long," smiled the 24-year-old German.
Suzuki F1 GP Results
1. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 53 laps 1hr 30m 53.427s
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 01.1s
3. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 02.0s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 08.0s
5. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 24.2s
6. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 27.1s
7. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 28.2s
8. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +00m 39.3s
9. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault +00m 42.6s
10. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 44.3s
11. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 54.4s
12. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes +00m 62.3s
13. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari +00m 63.7s
14. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Cosworth +01m 04.1s
15. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +01m 06.6s
16. Bruno Senna Brazil Renault-Renault +01m 12.6s
17. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth +01m 14.1s
18. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Renault +01m 27.8s
19. Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Renault +01m 36.1s
20. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth +2 laps
21. Jerome d'Ambrosio Belgium Virgin-Cosworth +2 laps
22. Daniel Ricciardo Australia HRT-Cosworth +2 laps
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy HRT-Cosworth +3 laps
Retired: Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 9 laps completed
Fastest lap: Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 36.568s lap 52
Button mused 'options' before McLaren stay
The delay in Jenson Button's contract extension beyond next year was due in part to the interest expressed by Ferrari.
That is the claim of O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, reporting that the famous Maranello team considered the 2009 world champion a potential new teammate for Fernando Alonso in 2013.
"I think it's important for drivers to look at all their options," confirmed Button.
But for now and for the next couple of years, he will definitely be a McLaren driver.
"And I am staying not for the money but because this is where I believe I will have the best chance of becoming world champion again," added the 31-year-old.
And that is also why he joined McLaren from Brawn at the end of his championship season, despite the fact the Brackley based team was set to become the works Mercedes team.
"I knew the team (Mercedes) would have a difficult season in 2010. We wouldn't have the advantage of the double diffuser and in the second half of 2009 we lost pace and we didn't develop the car because of a lack of resources.
"But I did think that after 2010 things would be better for them, but they are not," added Button.
For many in the F1 paddock, Button has been the outstanding performer of the season, a decade after he was written off by his then Benetton boss Flavio Briatore.
At Monaco in 2001, Briatore dismissed the Briton as a driver who "has suddenly made a lot of money and only thinks now about enjoying life. Right now, he is on his boat rather than being here, working."
At Suzuka 2011, Button replied: "It's true. I was very young, inexperienced and I started to enjoy the other things that opened up around me.
"It's also not easy being one of Flavio's drivers," he smiled, "especially when you are young.
"A lot has changed since 2001. I've learned a lot. You can see that from what I've done this year, yeah?"
Hamilton must work on 'attitude problem' - Mansell
Lewis Hamilton did not achieve his goal of staying out of trouble at Suzuka this weekend.
The troubled McLaren driver, who according to eyewitnesses was visibly upset as he addressed the media on Thursday, had vowed to move on from his Singapore scrap with Felipe Massa.
But after qualifying, Hamilton slammed Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber for "ridiculous" out-lap attacks at the Triangle chicane that led to him failing to post a final flying lap in Q3.
Afterwards, as he posed for the photographers alongside Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, the Briton was obviously angry and said he didn't know "what the hell" Schumacher and Webber were doing.
But Schumacher said it was "stupid" to be driving so slowly in the race against the Q3 clock, with Webber adding: "The team were saying 'come on, get on with it, we're running out of time'.
"Lewis tried to block, but I kept going."
Much later, Hamilton admitted the saga was "my mistake".
Nigel Mansell said he thinks it was the latest instalment in his fellow British world champion's tumultuous season.
"Lewis has to work on an attitude problem," the 1992 title winner told the Daily Mail. "He needs to get his head in a better place.
"You have to manage your car better than Lewis has done on too many occasions this season. Too many times he has positioned his car where he has caused an incident."
And Hamilton also needs to rethink how he reacts after such mistakes, Mansell added.
"He needs somebody who he respects to tell him on occasions that this is how it is and this is how you should conduct yourself. At times, Lewis doesn't always engage his brain before his mouth."