Jarno Trulli described his Japanese Grand Prix as a "qualifying race" after passing Lewis Hamilton for second place in the second round of pit stops.
The Italian had not finished on the podium since the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, but set some fast laps before his second stop to leapfrog Hamilton, who has used KERS power boost to pass the Italian at the start.
"I really enjoyed the 'qualifying race' with Lewis, closing the gap and coming closer," said Trulli, whose second place was his best result for over four years.
"It was not easy at all. After the first pit stop I was chasing him closely. Thanks to team strategy, we got him at the last pit stop and after that it was easy from me, apart from the safety car. I thought it would be a difficult restart with Lewis close to me, but I pulled away again."
The 35-year-old, who is currently without a drive for the 2010 season, believes that he would not have been able to challenge race winner Sebastian Vettel even if he had held second at the start.
"Even though I really wanted to win, it was impossible today because Vettel was unstoppable."
Trulli added that the hard work of the team had helped turn around the team's season, with a difficult mid-season spell ended by his second place and team-mate Timo Glock's second place in Singapore last week.
"It is a double result, because we come from a fantastic podium with Timo in Singapore," said Trulli. "From there, we came here and the car looked competitive straightaway.
"The team is in F1 and proving that they can still do the job. There are still some areas we have to improve, but being on the podium is fantastic. It's down to the entire team, the engineers, drivers, mechanics.
"We are having a lot of fun and productive work inside the team. The atmosphere is very nice."
Trulli's result keeps alive Toyota's chances of improving on its current fifth in the Constructors' Championship, with Ferrari and McLaren 12.5 and 10.5 points ahead respectively.