Tsunoda overtook Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas on the final lap to secure fourth ahead of AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly.

The Japanese rookie was running inside the points up until the late Safety Car, having started the race on the mediums. 

Overall, it was a strong weekend for Tsunoda, who out-qualified Gasly for the first time in conventional qualifying this year. 

Reflecting on the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Tsunoda said he didn’t expect his race pace to be as strong as it was.

“I’m so happy,” Tsunoda said in Abu Dhabi “I think overall this week the pace was really good. Also the race pace, I didn’t expect it to be that good to be honest.

“In the end I managed to have Bottas, so quite happy. I had a little bit of a mistake in the straight before Turn 9. Maybe I could have passed but it was all so tight – this is the next step, but a good way to finish the year.

“Also, for the next season, I’m happy with this week: the confidence comes back – a long journey that this confidence comes back, but in the end I managed to get a best result of the year, so I’m just happy.”

Gasly recovered from a poor qualifying in 12th to secure fifth - making it the team’s best result of the season in terms of points scored.

“I don’t think we could have done much more than that,” Gasly added. “It’s just way better than we expected and you know there are always areas to improve, that we’re going to work on for next year, but overall it’s been an incredible season.”

AlphaTauri ended the 2021 season sixth in the constructors’ championship.