Felipe Massa says his retirement from F1 came at the right moment and feels the respect he's been given from the entire paddock is more valuable to him than any trophy he has won.
The Williams driver bowed out with class in Abu Dhabi as he ended his time racing in F1 with 250 race starts, 11 race wins and 16 pole positions.
A hugely admired figure throughout the sport, as well as being remembered for his talents the Brazilian will also be known for his humility and composure in adversity, from his life-threatening injury suffered in Hungary in 2009 to his emotional podium celebration in Brazil despite losing the title to Lewis Hamilton in 2008.
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Massa says he has been taken aback by the amount of respect and admiration show to him throughout the F1 paddock since announcing his retirement in September at Monza and says he will cherish it as a key memory from his career.
“I saw a lot of respect from the people everywhere, not only in my country. The people who I have been working together, people who I didn't even know their names, and they were really giving a lot of respect for everything I passed through, for everything I did,” Massa said. “I always respect the people a lot, and I feel exactly the same respect I always gave to the people now.
"This is a really nice feeling, so it is even more than a trophy. This is a nice way to stop and a nice way to get that from the people. I always respected most of the people I worked with, and competed with, which was part of my career.
“I am really happy with my decision. It is a good time. It couldn't be better, it couldn't work in a better way with how it is going, so I am really happy with my decision, which is not easy, it is quite difficult to retire. But I am happy for that.”
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Felipe Massa's vacant race seat at Williams will be filled by European Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll in 2017 as he prepare for his rookie F1 campaign.
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