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Felipe Massa: Brazil send-off felt like a win

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Felipe Massa likened his emotional send-off at the Brazilian Grand Prix to one of his 11 career victories.

Massa, who announced last week he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season, turned in a stellar drive at his farewell, holding off a charging Fernando Alonso in the closing stages to finish seventh. The Brazilian driver celebrated wildly after holding the position, completing his cool-down lap by holding his nation's flag out of the cockpit as he returned to the pits.

During that spell, one of the most memorable moments of the season occurred, as the voice of Massa's young son Felipinho delivered a tear-jerking message to his father: "Daddy, I'm so proud of you. Wherever you go I will support you. I love you! By the way, I loved your start!"

After the top three had conducted the podium ceremony and celebrated with champagne, Massa was brought on to soak up the adulation of the home fans and talk to former Brazilian favourite Rubens Barichello.

Speaking later to Sky Sports, Massa said: "It's so difficult to explain my feelings today. Amazing start, then managed to overtake a few cars after the Safety Car. I managed to overtake Alonso, which was very important for me as I knew he would have better pace than me. I managed to keep him behind so I was so emotional when I finished the race.

"It was a very difficult race for me, for me it was like many victories I took. I drove a perfect race from beginning to end, managed the tyres, managed everything around the car. The pace I had today it was like a victory. It's so amazing to finish the race and see the emotion of the people after such an amazing race.

It's not the first time Massa has had an emotional send off at Interlagos. Last year Massa had announced his retirement and, after retiring late in the race, walked back to the pits in tears while draped in the Brazilian flag. His retirement lasted all of two months, however, as he was coaxed back to Williams after Valtteri Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg after the world champion announced his shock decision to walk away from the sport as world champion.

Having gone out on his own terms this year, Massa joked the second time around at Interlagos made his decision to come back for the 2017 campaign worth it.

"I knew that after last year I had so much love and emotion from the people, but I didn't finish the race as I wanted. Today I finished the race like I wanted, that's why I did another year!"

Massa's final race will be at the season finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of November. His replacement is still unknown, with Williams still to decide between a collection of drivers believed to include Robert Kubica, Paul di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat.