Ferrari gatecrashed Sebastian Vettel's triple world title party by insisting that Spaniard Fernando Alonso should have been crowned champion in an acrimonious, season-finale parting shot.
Red Bull driver Vettel's sixth-placed finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday allowed him to become the youngest three-time champion in the sport's history as the 25-year-old German claimed the title by just three points.
But Ferrari insisted that Alonso, who was second at Interlagos, should have been the man celebrating a third career title, pointing to controversial races in Belgium and Japan to support their argument.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Alonso paid a heavy price for first lap exits in Belgium and Japan where he was shunted out of contention by Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.
The Italian giants had been further aggrieved when Vettel, accused of blocking Alonso in qualifying in Japan before going on to win the race, escaped with just a reprimand.
"We are proud of Fernando," Domenicali told www.autosport.com. "But we are very disappointed because the one who deserved this championship was really him.
"It is a shame because, after such a long season that we really fight in all conditions, we raced 18 races and not 20 - and being second by three points is not a lot.
"Watch the facts. Zero points in two races (Belgium and Japan) so we have done what we have done with 18 races. The others had 20 - and the points were over 20 races."
But Domenicali remained gracious in his praise of Vettel who had collided with Williams driver Bruno Senna on the opening lap and was sent spinning to the rear of the field in Sunday's rain-lashed race before recovering.
"Sometimes there is a sign of destiny where you really can appreciate what is the direction of the wind," he said.
Alonso, who was second behind Jenson Button of McLaren in the race, also insisted his campaign had been undermined at Spa and Suzuka.
"The championship was not lost here," said the two-time champion. "The championship was lost when (Romain) Grosjean flew over my head (at Spa) or when Vettel surprisingly only got a reprimand after qualifying in Japan."
Vettel refused to get involved in a war of words although he did allude to his rivals' controversial decision the previous weekend in Texas to break the gearbox seal on Felipe Massa's Ferrari in order to allow Alonso to enjoy a starting advantage on the grid.
"A lot of people tried to play dirty tricks but we did not get distracted by that and kept going our way and all the guys gave a big push right to the end," Vettel told the BBC.