Timo Glock was elated with the performance of his Virgin Racing team after the German qualified as the best of the newcomers.
"It's great to be the best of the new teams here today and I'm very happy with what we have achieved," said Glock after qualifying in 19th position ahead of the two Lotus drivers. "This is a team result and a credit to everyone who has worked so hard in really difficult circumstances to get the best out of our first race package.
"To also be just 2.7sec away from teams with many more years of experience is even better. We have a big mountain to climb but we go into our debut race having achieved our first target and I think this will give us the momentum we need to keep on pushing.
"It just goes to show we are going in the right direction and all we have to do is focus on overcoming the hurdles we were bound to come across along the way."
Teammate Lucas di Grassi qualified in 22nd, ahead of the HRT drivers, but nearly a second behind Glock. The Brazilian, whose weekend has been blighted by problems, was still happy to have managed to take part in his first F1 qualifying.
"First of all, I'd like to say a big thanks to the team," said di Grassi. "They have put in so much effort to make this team and today happen for us. For us to be here with a healthy car is fantastic.
"For me it was still the very beginning, I only did three laps in the session this morning due to the issues we had. I'm quite happy to have done my first qualifying in F1. I know there are a lot of opportunities for us and plenty of scope for improvement."