Michael Schumacher ended his glorious career in Formula One with a heroic display in Brazil but said he was never destined to win this year's title.
Schumacher ponders the end of his career after a storming drive
The German put in one of the drives of his life to battle from last to fourth as Fernando Alonso took the crown.
"All in all, I'd have to say it was a class finale. We had an insanely quick car," the seven-times champion said.
"We probably had enough speed to lap everyone, which we sort of did. But it just wasn't meant to be today for me."
With Renault driver Alonso needing just a point to seal his second straight world title, Schumacher headed into Sunday's Grand Prix at Interlagos in Sao Paulo with the odds stacked against him.
He needed to win the race with Alonso finishing out of the points to win an eighth championship.
His hopes were further hit when he suffered a fuel-pressure failure in qualifying on Saturday, leaving him 10th on the grid and with a mountain to climb.
But Schumacher bowed out in style with a race that encapsulated many of his greatest qualities.
You know the song 'My Way'? I'd say that fits the way I feel
He dropped to the back of the field when he suffered a puncture after just nine laps, but set a series of fastest laps as he climbed up the field with the help of some daring overtaking manoeuvres.
"The race was rather chaotic, I guess that's the right word for it," Schumacher said.
Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn blamed the puncture on Alonso's team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
"I think he clipped Michael's tyre as he went past him and screwed our race," Brawn said.
But technicians from Ferrari's tyre supplier Bridgestone blamed debris on the track and Schumacher said: "I was told that it happened but I couldn't judge it myself because I didn't see it or even really feel anything.
What I'll miss is the moments, the good and the bad, that we had in the last 16 years - the support the fans gave me
"I just noticed that at some point my tyre wasn't working any more."
The 37-year-old leaves F1 with two titles more than the next most successful champion, Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, 91 wins and a string of other records that may never be beaten.
He said he had "no idea" how long it would take to get used to the idea of retirement and acknowledged that there were regrets and mistakes made in his career.
"There are certainly some of those but it would get too intense to talk about that now," he said.
"You know the song 'My Way'? I'd say that fits the way I feel."
"What I'll miss is the moments, the good and the bad, that we had in the last 16 years - the support the fans gave me that restored my self-confidence at times where things weren't going so well.
"That was immensely important for me over such a long sporting career. I'd like to say a huge thanks to them all.
"I know that's not nearly enough to pay that back but I'm afraid I can't do more at the moment."