won the Brazilian Grand Prix and the Formula One world title, beating Britain's Lewis Hamilton to the biggest prize in motorsport as the McLaren driver suffered a race of extraordinary bad luck and finished in seventh.
Raikkonen, who headed home a Ferrari one-two
ahead of Felipe Massa and the 'other' title rival Fernando Alonso
, beat the Spaniard and Hamilton by just one point to claim the closest championship for 13 years.
Hamilton, 22, made a bad start and then went wide while battling with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso
on the opening lap.
Worse was to follow though as he dropped back as far as 18th on lap four when his McLaren's gearbox selected a false neutral.
From then he was on a fightback throughout the race, and had moved up to tenth by the time of his first pit-stop on lap 22.
But a decision to switch him from a two-stop strategy to three backfired and, despite making 16 individual passing moves during the race, he could do no better than seventh place by the flag, a lap down on Raikkonen.
It all started to go wrong for Hamilton when he was out-dragged by Raikkonen at the start and then was forced in to a heavy braking manoeuvre at turn one to avoid hitting the back of the Finn.
The clean getaway by both red machines saw them dominate the race, with Massa pulling out by as much as four seconds at one point.
Raikkonen though began to charge back, benefiting from two incidents in particular. The first came when Adrian Sutil and Anthony Davidson collided at the Senna S and the Brit blocked Massa as he attempted to re-join.
The second came when the Brazilian got an almighty slide on at the Merghulo, and allowed Raikkonen on to his tail.
The Finn's three extra low-fuel laps at the second round of pit-stops allowed him to move ahead, and from then it was an easy 1.453 second win for Raikkonen, who punched the air with joy as he crossed the line to become champion for the first time.
Alonso came home third, having not panicked when three-stopping Robert Kubica overtook him in the mid-section of the race.
Kubica, after his final stop, became involved in a four-way scrap for fourth. It was led by his BMW Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld
, who was resisting pressure from Nico Rosberg's Williams until ten laps from home.
Rosberg came up the inside of his countryman into the Senna S, but both slid wide, allowing Kubica to pick his way through the gap and into fourth. Jarno Trulli
was also in the mix, but had to make a late stop after picking up damage to his right-front Bridgestone.
After a failed attempt, again at the Senna S, Rosberg made it by Kubica three laps from the end to seal fourth and the best finish of his career. Heidfeld was sixth with Hamilton passing Trulli at the Italian's stop for seventh.
Ninth was David Coulthard, who earlier saw his team-mate Mark Webber fall out of fifth with a hydraulic failure, while Kazuki Nakajima, who ran over his tyre man at his final pit stop, although mercifully not causing him any injuries, completed the top ten on his debut for Williams.Jenson Button
's nightmare season for Honda was ended by engine failure, as was that of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello
, while Renault also had a disastrous day.
Heikki Kovalainen was nudged off by Ralf Schumacher
at the first corner and later crashed out heavily at Curva du Sol, while Giancarlo Fisichella
's race was ended by contact with Sakon Yamamoto's Spyker early on.