Michael Schumacher admitted he had had 'tremendous fun' after bringing the curtain down on his F1 career with a return to the top ten.
The Mercedes man went into the season finale having failed to score since the Italian Grand Prix in early September, with the seven-time champion having endured a wretched run of form in the following six events.
Having qualified in 13th place at Interlagos, Schumacher looked set to depart F1 with another low-key performance after an early puncture saw him drop to the back of the field, although he was able to make full use of the mid-race Safety Car period to work his way back through the order into the top six.
Although he was passed by Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to leave him seventh, Schumacher admitted it had been a fun way to bring the curtain down on a glittering career that saw him take 91 victories in little over 300 starts.
“What an exciting and eventful Grand Prix!” he reflected. “Strangely enough, my last ever Formula One race began with a puncture which pushed me down the running order. But it's always been my philosophy to never give up - there's always a chance, you just have to keep going and seize it when it comes.
“It's a strange sort of coincidence that I've ended my Formula One career now in P7, which was my first ever qualifying result at Spa-Francorchamps 308 races ago. It also occurs to me that I was driving with the number seven on my car today and that I have seven world championship trophies in my cabinet.
“Even under these difficult conditions, my final Formula One race was tremendous fun, and I would once again like to thank the team and all my fans for their support over the past years. I've enjoyed the time we've spent together very much indeed.”
Schumacher also took time to congratulate countryman Vettel on a race that ended with him securing his third championship title in a row after a strong recovery drive of his own through the field.
“Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on claiming his third world title in a row,” he said. “I'm very proud of Sebastian and really thrilled for him. As early as the first lap, I suddenly found him blocking the track facing the wrong way, but then the two of us both staged great comebacks in the race. His performance also showed that you just have to keep plugging away.”