Massa claims emotional Monza podium after late fight

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Felipe Massa claimed an emotional podium finish at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday after fending off Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas in a drag race to the line.

Massa qualified fifth at Monza on Saturday, and made a good start to run third behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the end of the first lap.

The Brazilian dropped behind Nico Rosberg after the first round of pit stops, leaving him fourth heading into the final laps of the race.

However, when Rosberg suffered an engine failure and was forced to retire, Massa found himself occupying the final podium position, but was coming under pressure from Bottas behind.

In a close run to the line, Massa edged out his teammate by just 0.3 seconds to clinch his second podium finish of the 2015 season.

“I said I’m getting too old for these last three laps like that,” Massa joked with NBCSN after the race.

“I fought until the end and I think that’s really emotional. It’s so amazing the result today. I’m so happy with what we did, the result, the job, my job as well.

“I stopped a little bit earlier than Valtteri, and at the end he had better tires and maybe I didn’t have good tires at the end, but I tried to fight until the end and I think that’s what counts. I’m so happy, really amazing to be on the podium, it’s inside the blood.”

Massa’s podium finish was a popular among the tens of thousands of Ferrari fans that had descended on Monza for the race. Before joining Williams in 2014, Massa had spent eight seasons racing with the Italian marque, finishing on the podium at home in 2010.

“I’m sure the crowd was pushing my car,” Massa said. “They pushed and it helped! I was just praying and asking ‘please help me to stay in this position!’ and everything worked really well.”

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Massa would be remaining with Williams for 2016, racing alongside Bottas for a third consecutive year.