Yuki Tsunoda believes AlphaTauri's points finish at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix was a "big surprise" after he managed to finish in ninth after a scary moment on-track.
AlphaTauri sits just seven points away from Williams in the Constructors' Championship, with the target of a vastly improved AT04 being to overhaul the Grove-squad.
With team-mate Daniel Ricciardo contributing in Mexico, AlphaTauri has now scored in the United States, Mexico City, and both the Sao Paulo Sprint and Grand Prix to haul itself off the foot of the table.
Tsunoda too could have added more points in Mexico, but contact with Oscar Piastri derailed his afternoon.
However, he nearly lost his run to the points at Interlagos after a wild moment at Turn 10 that almost ended with him hitting the barrier.
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Tsunoda: Updates a 'big step' for AlphaTauri
"It is a big surprise and I think we're close with the other competitors," Tsunoda told media, including RacingNews365 of AlphaTauri's recent pace.
"We'e scored points in the last three races in a row, so it will be very good to just keep doing these [types] of races.
"Now we're close with P7 in the Constructors' Championship, and it's possible if we do our best.
"I feel better with the balance (after the vast US upgrades to the floor and rear-wing) but I will say results are saying everything, that we definitely made a big step, especially after the upgrades we had in Austin."
As for the wild moment at Turn 10, Tsunoda ran wide on the entry into the Turn 10 right-hander, losing positions as he regrouped the car.
"That was my big mistake, it was a bit scary," he said. "I actually s**t my pants, and luckily, I didn't DNF."