Jerome D'Ambrosio expressed delight at having outqualified his more experienced Marussia Virgin teammate Timo Glock in China.
The Belgian, competing in his third career grand prix in Shanghai this weekend, will line up 21st on the grid after outpacing the German by nearly half a second, but said that he still had plenty more to come from himself.
"I'm very happy," said D'Ambrosio. "What I take away from today is that I continue to improve, and although I still have a lot to learn, I'm going in the right direction.
"That's the most important thing for me. It's still the beginning and I have a lot to do, but the way I'm working – and how everyone in the team is working – is good and the results are showing that the direction we are following is the right one. It was a good Saturday."
Glock remains downbeat about Virgin's progress having struggled to get any heat into his Pirelli tyres.
"Overall, a better day than yesterday because we were at least able to complete our programme, but we were not able to get the best result in qualifying which is disappointing," said Glock. "I had some warm-up issues on the first run and the tires were not working really at all on the second, so I have to think the changes we made between free practice and qualifying were not for the better.
"I think overall we went a little too conservative, but who knows? That might help us in the race. We'll have a good look at the data now and see what that tells us, then look to a good strategy for tomorrow and aim for the chequered flag."