Yuki Tsunoda ended his rookie Formula 1 season with his best finish of the season, with the Japanese racer taking fourth place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver was on the pace all evening at the Yas Marina Circuit and was running inside the top six prior to the late race safety car. Once Sergio Pérez retired, he moved into the top five, and he was able to pass Valtteri Bottas on the final lap following the late race restart.
Tsunoda feels he had a great end to the season in Abu Dhabi, which he feels will benefit him in 2022 where he hopes to build on his performances from 2021 and enjoy a much stronger year.
“I’m so happy, what an incredible result to end the season with,” said Tsunoda. “I think overall this weekend the car has been really strong, I didn’t expect the race pace to be quite as good but in the end it has been a great day.
“It’s amazing to be finishing the season on such a high, it’s been a long journey getting back to this point, but I’ve really rebuilt my confidence and it’s great heading into the off-season with this incredible result.”
Tsunoda congratulated Max Verstappen for taking his maiden World Championship on Sunday, and he believes he, his team and Red Bull Racing’s engine suppliers Honda deserved the title after a strong 2021 campaign.
“Huge congratulations to Max, it was such a tough battle throughout the season and I think he really deserved it today,” said Tsunoda. “I want to thank him also for giving this great result to Honda, as he’s given them the best way to celebrate their last year in F1.”
“I’m extremely happy to finish in P5 today” – Pierre Gasly
Team-mate Pierre Gasly was also able to have a strong day in Abu Dhabi, with the Frenchman climbing from twelfth on the grid to finish just behind Tsunoda in fifth.
Gasly was also able to jump Bottas on the restart, with the result consolidating AlphaTauri’s best season in Formula 1, even though they finished short of finishing ahead of the Alpine F1 Team in fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I’m extremely happy to finish in P5 today, it’s the best way to end this year,” said Gasly. “It’s been an incredible season, the most successful for us as a team in 15 years, we’ve scored a lot of points and there have been many highlights.
“We’ve focused on ourselves every single race and I think we’ve performed well this season, so I’m really proud of everyone.”
Gasly grew up racing alongside new champion Verstappen, and the Frenchman said he always knew he was destined to be World Champion in Formula 1 one day.
“I’m really pleased for Max, we grew up racing together, we knew he would have been World Champion one day and he did it today,” he said.
“It’s well deserved and I’m also happy for Honda, after all the years of hard work they’ve managed to get this Championship in their final year.”