Felipe Massa could almost taste victory in Abu Dhabi but, once again, had to give second best to Lewis Hamilton in the battle he craved most.

Six years ago, the Brazilian was Hamilton's world championship rival and, despite winning on that occasion at Interlagos, was pipped to the crown in the final seconds of the race as the Briton passed Timo Glock to clinch the fifth place he needed. Unknown to anyone at the time, it would also be Massa's last race win, so the chance to pass Hamilton and take the flag first at Yas Marina in 2014 was given extra importance for the Williams driver. Sadly, despite fitting the faster supersoft Pirellis at his second and last stop, the run to the line again proved a little to far for Massa, who eventually had to settle for second place.

"It was an incredible race for us," the diminutive Brazilian acknowledged, "I didn't expect to have that pace, and I was able to keep the tyres, not until the end, but through a long part of the race. I wanted that victory so much and we were close. I hope that's just a beginning for next year."

Related Articles

Having started on the supersoft, many of Massa's rivals opted for two sets of the soft tyre to see them through the bulk of the race but, in line with a couple of other gamblers, the Brazilian reverted to the red-ringed rubber for a sprint to the flag.

"I was talking to the team and we suggested trying the option," he confirmed, "Why not? We had a big gap to the next car, which was [team-mate] Valtteri [Bottas]. Unfortunately, to Lewis, it was a little bit too far...

"With ten laps to go, I was a little more than a second a lap quicker and I said that, if the tyres stay like this, I can win the race. But the tyres were definitely degrading a little bit, especially as I was on the option, and, in the last four laps, I didn't have enough to catch as I was catching before."

Despite the disappointment, Massa again suggested that the performance, and that throughout 2014, was only a stepping stone to greater things for the Williams team.

"I think it was a fantastic job for the team," he said, "I am so proud to be on this team Thank you guys, you are really in my heart and I am so proud to be racing for Williams. This is just the beginning and we can do a lot more than that."