Kamui Kobayashi admitted he did not expect to achieve such a strong result at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Toyota driver, in only his second Formula 1 race, finished in sixth position after a superb performance from 12th on the grid.
The Japanese rookie even beat team-mate Jarno Trulli, seventh today.
"It was a really good race for me," said Kobayashi. "At the start I overtook (Kimi) Raikkonen and that was important in the end because it would have been difficult to finish in the top six if I had been behind him during the first stint.
"When I got past I was confident I had the race pace to fight for the points and my target was to be consistently fast. The team did a great job with the strategy and the pit stop which played a big part in helping me finish in the points.
"I certainly wasn't expecting to be racing in Formula 1 this season and I want to say thank you to Toyota for this opportunity.
"My target was to finish in the points today but I am a bit surprised to be in the top six. This is a fantastic result and I am extremely happy."
Trulli said he endured a difficult day as he struggled with traction.
"It was not an easy race for me," he said. "I made a good start and was fighting with the BMWs on the first laps, which was good fun, but I was struggling a little with traction. During the stint the rear tyres were degrading and then later braking consistency became an issue.
"I was pushing as hard as possible and putting in some good laps to fight for the top six. In the end I was seventh, which is not bad, and for the team the result is pretty good. Obviously Kamui drove really well and I am very pleased for him; he deserved this result."