The key to Massa's success came when he escaped the fallout from his team mate's spin through the first corner, which allowed him to jump past multiple cars in front taking avoiding action and slip into fourth place before anyone knew what was happening.
"I got a good start and managed to get through the chaos at the first corner unscathed and then I immediately felt I had a good pace and that I could keep close to Button and Kobayashi," he explained.
"I got past them at the pit stop thanks to a great strategy and immediately I realised that, even on the hard [compound tyres], my pace was competitive," he added. "The only difficult moment of the weekend, for which we still don't have a reason, was the damned second run in Q2."
"Felipe drove a fantastic race right from the start," added Ferrari's technical director Pat Fry. "He was quicker than Button in the first stint and was able to manage the tyres so as to delay his first stop which gave him the opportunity to get by at the pit stop.
"He managed it and also succeeded in passing Kobayashi, thus opening the door to a race based on two stops," Fry continued. "The same thing happened with the hard tyres, as he managed them very well, which set him up to get back on the podium after a break of almost two years."
The delight in Massa's corner of the Ferrari garage was balanced by the despondency over in Alonso's camp, although the Spaniard took a moment to hail his team mate for having "produced a perfect race."
"A bitter sweet Sunday afternoon for us here in Suzuka," agreed Pat Fry, as the team packed up and hoped for better fortune next weekend in Korea.