SAO PAULO -- Sebastian Vettel captured his third straight Formula One championship title Sunday, overcoming a first-lap crash to finish sixth in a Brazilian Grand Prix won by Jenson Button under pouring rain.
"It's difficult to find the right words," said Vettel, who at 25 became the youngest three-time champion in F1. "It's unbelievable. I'm still full of adrenaline. It was an incredible race."
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, F1's most successful driver, finished seventh in his final race after 19 seasons. Minutes before the race, he lapped the track with a flag with the words "Thank You." He used the radio to thank the mechanics and engineers he has worked with as well as his fans watching on TV.
Vettel is the first driver with three titles in a row since Schumacher won five straight from 2000-04. The only other driver to win at least three consecutive championships was Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954-57.
The race was dramatic from the start but had an anticlimactic finish behind the safety car after Paul Di Resta crashed just before the final lap.
It rained on and off throughout the race at Interlagos, making conditions difficult and forcing drivers to come in and out of the pits several times.