It was a short race for Romain Grosjean, whose Lotus exploded in a cloud of smoke on lap four, forcing the Frenchman to limp back to the pits.
By lap six, Alonso had continued his pace through the field, passing Rosberg to take second place. Vettel had opened up a huge lead, however, and was running unopposed with 4.9 seconds seperating himself and Alonso. Rosberg's race continued to deteriorate as he came under attack from Hamilton, prompting concerns that his tyres may be suffering excess wear. A radio message from the Mercedes garage to Rosberg said: "If you have problems with the tyres, then don't hold up Lewis. If they're coming back, then push."
Webber continued his strong final race, challenging Alonso for second place on lap 11 and passing him one lap later. That move left Vettel, albeit with a strong lead of some 9.6 seconds, being chased down by his Red Bull team-mate.
The challenges continued for Rosberg, who lost fifth place to the Ferrari of Felipe Massa having already been told to let Hamilton through too. He quickly also found himself under attack from the McLaren of Jensen Button.
The threat of impending rain showers around lap 22 caused a flurry of pit stops from the field. While most were smooth, Webber lost out with a very slow pit stop from Red Bull, meaning he exited behind Alonso in third place.
Massa was given a drive-through penalty by the race stewards on lap 30 for crossing the pit-lane entry line. The subsequent penalty cost the Ferrari driver some 16 seconds and released him back into the field behind the McLaren of Sergio Perez in ninth place.
Webber managed to again re-pass Alonso, and as the field continued to spread itself out Vettel was left running with an 11.9 second lead over the Australian, with Alonso falling behind and both Hamilton and Button also catching up in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Hamilton then suffered a rear puncture a few laps later after making contact with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and causing the driver to spin off the circuit. The British driver received a drive-through penalty for the incident, which eventually left him in ninth position.
Vettel's luck was also tested as both he, Webber and Alonso pitted at the same time, with yet another slow Red Bull pit stop closing the gap between the top three drivers.
During the latter stages of the race, Webber managed to close the gap between himself and Vettel to 5.5 seconds, putting in faster sector times than the German in many cases. The final ten laps also saw the arrival of rain, prompting some teams to re-think their tyre strategies yet again.
However, Vettel managed to maintain his lead despite the gathering rain to take home the final win of the season. The 26-year-old driver also recorded his ninth straight victory, equalling a record set by legendary driver Alberto Ascari, and also matching a record set by Michael Schumacher for 13 wins in a single season.
Speaking on the podium, Mark Webber said the race was "a good end" to his F1 career, and thanked his team and supporters for "playing a special role" in his racing journey.
Brazilian Grand Prix, 24 November 2013
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Jensen Button (McLaren)
5. Nico Rosberg (McLaren)
6. Sergio Perez (Mercedes)
7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber)
9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
10. Daniel Ricciardo (Torro Rosso)