Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in his final F1 race. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third.
Vettel, who had already wrapped up a fourth straight F1 title, was overtaken by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes at the start but regained the lead on the second lap and cruised to his second victory in Brazil, and 39th of his career. He crossed the line 10.4 seconds in front of Webber.
"I think it is very difficult for me to realize, probably now and in the next couple of weeks, what we have achieved again, and in particular this year at the end of the season," Vettel said. "At the end of the day, as I see it now, it's just a number. But hopefully one day, when I've got less hair and (I'm) chubby, then it's probably something nice to look back."
Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren's best finish of the season. Rosberg was fifth and Mexico's Sergio Perez finished sixth after starting 19th in his final race with McLaren.
"Yes, we did it," Vettel said on his radio before his now-traditional donut celebration.
The win capped an impressive season by Vettel, who had already broken Schumacher's 2004 mark of seven straight wins in the same season last week at the United States GP. Vettel matched the 13 wins by Schumacher that same year, and equaled Ascari's record of straight victories from 1952-53. The 26-year-old Vettel clinched the title at the Indian GP, becoming the youngest driver to win four world championships.
Webber, who had won two of the last four races in Brazil, took his helmet off as he returned to the pits and waved to the crowd. The team wrote "Awesome. Thank you Mark," on the pit sign as the Australian crossed the line.
"It was a good finish to my career," he said. "It was a great journey. I'll enjoy watching F1 next year."
Webber will be joining Porsche in a sports car series in 2014. The 37-year-old Australian spent 12 seasons in F1, winning nine times and reaching the podium 42 times in 215 starts. His second place on Sunday allowed him to finish third in the drivers' standings, repeating his feat in 2010 and '11.
Vettel had a poor start and was overtaken by Rosberg at the first turn but was back in front with a move to the inside of his fellow German driver on Turn 1 on the following lap. Vettel had a slow pit stop near the end but remained in front thanks to a big lead over Webber before coming in.
It was the first time this weekend that drivers raced on a dry track at Interlagos after the three practice sessions and qualifying were run in wet conditions. Light rain fell near the end of the race but it wasn't enough to significantly affect the track conditions.
Lewis Hamilton, who had a flat right rear tire on his Mercedes after contact with Valtteri Bottas of Williams, finished ninth. Hamilton received a drive through penalty for causing the collision.
Mercedes held on to second place in the constructors' championship, finishing ahead of Ferrari and Lotus. Red Bull was the champion.
It was the last race before significant engine changes debut in F1 next year. Teams will have to switch from 2.4-litre V8 engines to a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged unit, a move that will demand significant alterations in the design of cars and make predictions nearly impossible.
Home-crowd favourite Felipe Massa, in his final race with Ferrari before joining Williams, finished a disappointing seventh after a drive-through penalty halfway through the race for crossing a pit line. Massa, who was fourth when he was penalized, will be replaced by world champion Kimi Raikkonen next year.
Perez, being replaced by rookie Kevin Magnussen of Denmark next season, had a remarkable race in his farewell from McLaren. He had started 19th after a five-spot grid penalty for having to change a gear box following a crash in qualifying on Saturday.
No McLaren driver had reached the podium or finished higher than fifth coming into the season finale.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Webber's replacement in 2014, was 10th.
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