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Felipe Massa believes that sixth place in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix was "like a victory" as Williams continued to set the pace at the front of the Formula 1 midfield.

Massa made a good start to pass Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap, and even rose as high as fourth following the safety car restart.

While Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo were able to battle back past en route to P4 and P5 respectively, Massa was delighted to finish sixth on team owner Frank Williams' 75th birthday.

"Definitely I'm happy with the performance today," Massa said. "Frank deserved a victory, but I would say today is like a victory. We finished in the best position we could, I fought the whole race, great start, great first lap overtaking Kimi, but also after the safety car, overtaking Daniel.

"I'm really happy with the performance today. Frank deserved it so I'm really sure he's happy."

The result saw Massa rise to seventh in the drivers' championship, trailing only the Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, and appears to be in some of his best form despite planning to retire at the end of last year.

"Well I just retired because I was planning to stay in the team I believed was correct," Massa said. "I had this chance so I'm back because I believe Williams is the correct team to race, they're professional, they like me, they respect me, which I do the same for them.

"That's why I decide to be here and I think it was a good thing because I show my performance and I think that's what it gives you a smile.

"I'm 35, almost 36, but I feel that I'm still in good shape to keep fighting."

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