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Tsunoda delighted with P4 finish after 'long journey' to competitiveness

Yuki Tsunoda feels his Abu Dhabi weekend was the highlight of his first campaign in Formula 1, as he finished in fourth place.

Yuki Tsunoda admits it's felt like a "long journey" to become competitive in Formula 1 as he finished in fourth place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Tsunoda outpaced AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly for the first time in conventional qualifying at the weekend, reaching Q3 on the Medium tyres. He consolidated that impressive performance to record his best result of the season, boosting his confidence going into the winter break.

"It was a long journey"

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com , Tsunoda said: "I think it was a long journey to improve my confidence, from especially Imola. "I really struggled, and it was a long journey, but I'm feeling pretty good and pretty prepared for the next year, to have this confidence. "[Next season is] going to be a tough season as well, starting quite early next year, so there's not much time to rest. "I think I still have to improve myself, especially physically. [I will] just keep pushing and try to have a good start for next year."

The start was key

Tsunoda started from eighth on the grid and managed to overtake Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, keeping the Finn at bay during the first stint of the race. He feels his weekend at the Yas Marina circuit was the "highlight of the season". "The start was really good," added Tsunoda. "Obviously, I've had bad starts, consistently - I lost positions on the first lap in the last three or four races. This was my key point today. "I improved this one and I gained even one position on the first lap. And that was, I think, the key point for today's race, that I got P4. "After that the pace was quite good. In the end, I managed to pass [Valtteri] Bottas on Soft tyres - so that was good."

Tsunoda enjoyed battling Alonso

Tsunoda had a close battle with Fernando Alonso in the middle of the race as Alpine and AlphaTauri fought each other for one last time in 2021. Alonso cut Turn 13 to pass Tsunoda, which forced the Japanese driver to overtake him on the next lap. "I think to be honest, he [Alonso] completely passed off-track," said Tsunoda. "So he should give me back the position immediately. “But he didn't, so I just had to overtake. But anyway, it was fun to battle with that kind of legend."

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