Red Bull's Vettel managed to shake off a spin-out on the very first lap to claim the Top 10 finish, allowing him to edge out Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the 2012 title by just three standings points.
Alonso finished second at Sunday's rain-soaked Sao Paulo event, which was won by McLaren's Jenson Button -- his third triumph of the season and 15th of his career.
The race was cut short after Force India's Paul di Resta crashed with less than two laps remaining.
Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari claimed third in his home country race.
Red Bull's Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg of Force India rounded out the Top 5.