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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Felipe Massa thanks fans after bringing down curtain on F1 career following season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The Brazilian, 36, had already called time on his 16-year stint in the sport, but concluded it with a 10th-place finish in the season finale at Yas Marina Circuit

Felipe Massa brought down his Formula One career on Sunday with another top-10 finish at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Brazilian, 36, had already called time on his 16-year stint in the sport, but concluded it with a 10th-place finish in the season finale at Yas Marina Circuit.

It means Massa, who drives for Williams having rose to prominence with Ferrari, had gleaned world championship points from every one of the eight times he raced in the UAE capital. He missed the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009 due to a serious head injury sustained earlier that campaign.

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"It was really a great pleasure to be here for 16 years,” Massa said following his final outing in F1.

"I am so lucky to pass through all this racing in many great teams, fighting the best drivers in the world. Thank you for following me and supporting me all this time. I am very lucky to have this in my life. I will miss many things."

Massa started Sunday’s race 10th on the grid, but could not improve upon that as Mercedes-GP driver Valtteri Bottas took the victory from pole. Despite finishing well down the pecking order, Massa leaves the sport with much credit: he recorded 11 wins and 41 podiums throughout his career and was a more than reliable teammate during Michael Schumacher’s dominant years at Ferrari. Massa’s last victory, though, came nine years ago, at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.

In Abu Dhabi, he finished as the fastest of the Williams cars - Canadian Lance Stroll was last of the classified runners - with the team’s chief technical officer Paddy Lowe paying tribute to Massa afterwards.

Williams driver Felipe Massa finished in 10th place at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. Christopher Pike / The National
Williams driver Felipe Massa finished in 10th place at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. Christopher Pike / The National

“We were determined to finish the season on a high,” Lowe said. “There was a lot of emotion in the camp around Felipe’s last drive for the team after such a great career in Formula One. It was a tough race with some very competitive racing. We had a close fight with Fernando [Alonso] in the opening lap and then later on in the race around the pit stops.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today to stay ahead. We ran out of energy on the outlap, which is why Fernando was able to get past as they came out of the pits, but we scored a point and points is what it’s all about. I’m happy for Felipe and for the team to finish that way.”

Stroll, who began in 15th, added: “It was not a good race today. I hate to be negative, but nothing worked this weekend so I just couldn't get the tyres switched on and I was just lost out there. We weren't in the race today. We had three pit stops and still it didn't work.”