Felipe Massa ended ninth in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the only Williams Martini Racing to make the points and the finish in the 2016 Formula 1 season finale after Valtteri Bottas retired from the race.
But it’s Massa’s retirement from the sport after his 250th Grand Prix start that stands out as the key takeaway for him this season.
And after his emotional exit from his home Grand Prix in Brazil two weeks ago, Abu Dhabi afforded the 35-year-old an opportunity to race for fun, with no pressure, nothing to lose, and really soak up the heat of competition for the final time in F1 without the backdrop of a home race.
The team farewelled Massa on Saturday night.
An embrace with son Felipinho occurred before Massa rolled off the grid.
Massa also had fellow moments with teammate Bottas and Bernie Ecclestone.
The race itself was pretty straightforward; Massa got by Bottas for ninth by Lap 8, and Bottas would head to the garage at that point.
Without the pace to match the Force Indias in front of him, Massa was content to finish behind them in ninth and score two points for his final start.
After the race, Massa almost spent more time thanking the rest of the field than he did reflecting on his own day, thus showcasing the class that’s been a hallmark of his career.
“To be honest I feel really happy. Proud,” Massa told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “Fighting to the last lap, same as my first laps in my career. I am definitely emotional for this moment, but very proud of everything I did.
“I cannot forget Nico – he won the championship. It’s a nice story. He’s really deserving of it. I cannot forget Jenson. He’s a fantastic gentleman as well. He didn’t finish it the way he wanted, but it was great for him like it was for me in Brazil. I’m thankful and happy for all of you guys.
“I’m proud of my career, of everything I managed to achieve. A lot of dreams and results. But I’m also proud I respected people… and got that as well,” he reflected.
Massa was also awarded the race chassis from Williams he raced in Brazil as a retirement gift, which as it turned out was the same one he raced in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s the same one I raced today, so I’m really happy and proud. I took a lot more care today when I knew it was mine! A fantastic gift from the team. This team will stay in my heart.”