Sebastian Vettel has hailed his final Japanese Grand Prix as "a mega result" that ultimately capped "a dream weekend".
Vettel started ninth and finished a remarkable sixth for Aston Martin but that only tells a small portion of the story given what unfolded in between for the four-time F1 champion.
In the build-up to the race, Vettel had made clear Suzuka was his favourite track built by the gods, while the 35-year-old was showered with well wishes and gifts from the fans.
Vettel's race, however, started disastrously as a spin at the first corner following contact with Alpine's Fernando Alonso dropped him to the back of the field.
The red-flag period soon after allowed Aston Martin to hatch a recovery once the race restarted after a two-hour hiatus that allowed Vettel to claim sixth at the flag.
“Obviously, it was a shame that we only got half a race but at least the people in the grandstands got to see some racing," said Vettel.
"We were waiting in the dry for the restart, but I imagine it must have been rather unpleasant to sit outside in the wet for a couple of hours.
"I got a very good start but then I collided with another car at the first corner. I really could not see anything. I am not sure, maybe I aquaplaned or I made a mistake but I lost all the positions I had gained and ended up last.
"When the race restarted, we made a good decision to box immediately for inters. It was a great stop, then I pushed like crazy and managed to undercut most of the field.
"It has been a dream weekend. For us to score eight points is a mega result.
"I feel sad to have driven my last race here, but it has been a wonderful weekend, and to all the fantastic Suzuka fans I can only say, ‘Thank you’.”
Aston Martin within sight of sixth
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack also recognised the significance of the timing of Vettel's pit stop as vital to a result that has pushed his team to within seven points of sixth-placed Alfa Romeo in the constructors' standings.
"Once the race finally got underway, it was a great one, albeit not a long one," said Krack.
"But the main thing is it provided excellent entertainment for the always-enthusiastic Japanese fans who braved the wet weather to fill the grandstands, and for viewers all over the world who stayed glued to their TV sets despite the long hiatus in the on-track action.
"From an Aston Martin point of view, we scored our second consecutive sixth place, thanks to a fine drive by Sebastian, facilitated by a good strategy call to fit inters so soon after the restart and a superb pit stop that enabled him to exit the pit lane ahead of [Nicholas] Latifi."