Lewis Hamilton just misses out on podium after pitlane start in Brazil
Sebastian Vettel took the victory, but Hamilton was Driver of the Day with a great charge from the back
Lewis Hamilton underlined just why he is a four-time world champion on Sunday when he came within metres of a podium finish in Brazil, despite starting from the pitlane.
The Mercedes ace, who sealed the title last time out in Mexico, was forced to start the race from the pits after he crashed out in the first qualifying session on Saturday, and his team elected to change some parts on the car.
It meant that a fortnight after wrapping up his fourth world championship, Hamilton was at the very back of the grid for his first race as the new champ.
But thereafter he scythed his way through the field, taking car after car until he found himself up in fourth going into the closing laps.
It looked like he was going to complete an unlikely pitlane-to-podium drive, but as he caught Kimi Raikkonen in third, his tyres seemed to cry 'enough', and after he locked up, he could not quite get close enough to make a move on the Ferrari.
In the end he crossed the line in fourth, less than a second behind Raikkonen. He just missed out on the podium but it was enough to get him the Driver of the Day award.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel seemed to put the disappointment of losing the title behind him and took the lead from Valtteri Bottas at the first corner and thereafter ran a commanding race to take a win that never really looked in doubt, save for one moment when he came out just milliseconds in front of Bottas' Mercedes.
The Finn himself finished second, just a few seconds ahead of Raikkonen.
The other big cheers of the day were for local lad Felipe Massa who enjoyed his final home race in Brazil by holding off a charging Fernando Alonso in the final stages of the race to seal seventh-place.
Alonso himself showed his class by applauding Massa down the pitlane after the slowing down lap.
In a sign that Liberty Media understand media and presentation perhaps better than previous regimes, Massa was brought up onto the podium after the top three, where he was given an emotional send off by fellow local hero Ruben Barrichello.
Driver championship standings
Bottas can still catch Vettel for second - but only just
Constructor championship standings
Below Force India in fourth, it's all to play for in the midfield