Nico Rosberg held on under-pressure from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in a nail-biting climax to clinch his maiden Formula 1 crown as race winner Lewis Hamilton backed his title rival into the chasing pack.
Both the Mercedes drivers started strongly, crucially holding station through turn one as Verstappen spun out and tumbled down the order following a collision with Nico Hulkenberg.
Rosberg, though, emerged behind Verstappen following his first pit-stop and sat behind the Dutchman for a long period before making a daring pass into turn eight and regaining second place.
Vettel, who delayed his second stop and bolted on the faster supersofts, presented the next challenge to Rosberg, eyeing a move on his compatriot in the dying stages after passing the two Red Bulls.
Even as Hamilton ignored Mercedes' team instructions to pick up the pace, Rosberg held on, coming home in second place to seal the championship - emulating the feat of his father Keke 34 years ago.
The German becomes the 33rd Formula 1 world champion, ultimately winding up just five points clear of Hamilton at the end of a dramatic title battle.
A tenth win of the campaign represents scant consolation for Hamilton, but he will be hoping to carry the momentum from his superb finish to the campaign into the 2017 season amid the overhaul of the regulations.
Vettel ultimately took third place, his seventh podium finish of a frustrating season, while Verstappen finished fourth - a fine recovery after his first lap woes.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, having won a strategic battle with the Finn, while Nico Hulkenberg picked up six points in seventh on his final race for Force India.
Sergio Perez rounded off the season in P8 as Felipe Massa bowed out of F1 in a solid ninth place ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
Haas just missed out on points, with Romain Grosjean and the departing Esteban Gutierrez 11th and 12th respectively, while Manor duo Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein came home in 13th and 14th.
Sauber, though, finish above their rivals despite another disappointing race which saw Marcus Ericsson in 15th lead home Felipe Nasr, while Jolyon Palmer was the last classified finisher after clumsily colliding with Carlos Sainz.
Sainz joined Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat on the sidelines, but Jenson Button was the headline retiree, as suspension damage brought his afternoon, and indeed his F1 career, to an early end.