He then withstood huge pressure from the McLaren driver over the remainder of the race, eventually crossing the line less than half a second in front of the Spaniard as he picked up his best result since finishing sixth in Bahrain in April.
Massa, who announced last week he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season, turned in a stellar drive at his farewell, holding off a charging Fernando Alonso in the closing stages to finish seventh.
"It's an issue I'm sure the government here are fighting, but I think maybe on this weekend, there are protocols that should be put in place to help, like for example when we go to Mexico, which weren't there for these guys".
His 7-year-old son Felipinho was the first to congratulate him after the race, which was won by Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. "Today I finished the race like I wanted, that's why I did another year!"
If you don't feel a twinge of emotion after that, you are officially dead inside.
"I did everything in a ideal way from the beginning to the end, fighting with a guy that I was fighting a lot in my career", said an emotional Massa afterwards.
With Sao Paulo notorious for throwing unpredictable weather conditions during the race weekend, the two-time world champion says that rain would be beneficial for the McLaren team but a top ten result in the race will be the goal.
An emotional Massa said he will spend more time with his family after his F1 retirement, but he is likely to join the electric-powered Formula E series in 2018.
A runner-up in the 2008 season, Massa has 11 wins in 269 starts in his F1 career.
Massa, 36, will bow out at the Abu Dhabi GP later in November.
It's not the first time Massa has had an emotional send off at Interlagos.
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