Jenson Button celebrated fulfilling a boyhood dream after his bold drive in Brazil earned him a maiden world title.
The 29-year-old recovered from 14th to finish fifth in Sao Paulo to succeed compatriot Lewis Hamilton and become Britain's 10th world champion.
"After the last few races, this one makes up for it. It was awesome," the jubilant Brawn driver told BBC Sport.
"I jumped into a kart 21 years ago and I loved winning. I never expected to be world champion in F1 but I've done it."
Button admitted he "felt sick" after qualifying on Saturday when he failed to make it into the top-10 shootout and closest title rival Rubens Barrichello claimed pole.
But Button drove a superb race, executing several daring overtaking manoeuvres, while Barrichello slipped back to third before a puncture finally ruined his hopes of closing the gap on his Brawn team-mate.
Button elated after world title victory
"I think that drive was worthy of a world champion," said Button.
Despite losing out to Button, Barrichello generously laid on his private jet for the Briton, enabling him to fly home later than planned as he celebrated his title success.
Button put in a brief appearance at the Brawn party celebrations before returning to his hotel room on his own.
"We all celebrate in different ways and for me to just chill on my own was the best thing for me," said Button.
"I obviously wanted to go out and congratulate the whole team, which I did, and then I got home and just relaxed and just took everything in. It was perfect."
Button's success on Sunday came after what the Englishman described as a "stressful few races" in which Barrichello and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel had chipped away at his championship lead.
"I dreamt on Friday night that qualifying was going to be terrible, and it was," Button said after the win. "I also dreamt Friday night that I would be world champion this weekend.
His Brawn team also secured the one point they needed to seal the constructors' championship.
"I am so pleased for all the guys. We have come through strongly and we are going to have quite a good few days," Button said.
"The last few months have been very stressful. I try not to show it because that is a sign of weakness, but it has been hard - but we have done it."
Hamilton congratulates champion Button
Button has suffered criticism throughout his career, first that he did not take his job seriously enough, then that it took him too long to win his first race - which he did in Hungary in 2006 after 113 attempts.
And in the second half of this season he has been accused of backing into the world title after slipping away from the form that won him six of the first seven races.
But Button said: "None of it matters, because I'm sat here as world champion and that is something you can never take away. I've had an up and down season, but I've come out on top and I'm world champion. I don't need to say anything."
As Button celebrated his title win, Red Bull's Mark Webber revelled in the second race victory of his career after a masterful race at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.
The Australian said there was no question that Button, who won six of the first seven races of the season, deserved his maiden world championship.
"JB is consistent and I have said that throughout this year," he said.
"Unfortunately, he was also blisteringly quick at the start of the year as well.
"A lot of other drivers, including us [Webber and Vettel] and Rubens had a shopping list of excuses as to why we were not getting the results, but at the end of the day we were not, JB was.
"Other teams arrived, particularly Lewis [Hamilton] and Kimi [Raikkonen], in the middle and the back part of the season, and that made it hard for him to close the deal out but he is a deserved champion."
Barrichello delighted with season
Barrichello, meanwhile, suffered disappointment at his home grand prix for the 17th time, but paid a warm tribute to his Brawn team - who he is likely to leave at the end of the season - and the new world champion.
"People put a flower on my coffin at the start of the season," he said.
"I was back, driving a fantastic car and I was so, so up for it. It was a great car to drive all year.
"I am pleased for Jenson, as a friend, and as a great champion, and if I didn't win, he should have won it, so well done to him.
"Jenson deserved to do it, but he won it on the first six races, and I think the second half of the championship was mine."
He added: "It is a hell of a team that deserves to win and we will have a great night tonight. I feel part of this, especially the constructors' championship."
Brawn team principal Ross Brawn, who helped Michael Schumacher win his seven drivers' titles when he was at Benetton and then Ferrari, said Button's performance in Brazil was "the drive of a world champion".
"He's a fantastic racer. Today he had a great race; he knew what he had to do," said Brawn.
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