Lewis Hamilton declared himself "overwhelmed" with fourth position on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix after admitting that McLaren does not have the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.
The 2008 World Champion could only manage a lap 1.1sec slower than Sebastian Vettel's Q3 pole time, and admitted that the MP4-25 lacks downforce in comparison to its rivals.
"I was actually surprised with that result," Hamilton told the BBC. "We generally don't have the same pace as the Red Bulls and the Ferraris so I was really surprised when I came through.
"I saw that I was P4 but I didn't know that there was loads of people behind me. I am absolutely overwhelmed with that position, I think that's great for us, a great starting point and I hope tomorrow we can just either keep that position or take one more tomorrow."
Hamilton added that he was pleased to be in a position to score points and to have a more competitive car than he had for the beginning of the 2009 season.
Despite this, he said that the team needed to improve the car in the coming weeks to catch its rivals: "I think it is downforce. We are generally quite weak in the middle sector [at Bahrain], I think we lose almost a second there.
"We have got a lot of downforce to find, but I know the guys back at the factory are pushing very hard, and this is a much better position to start from than we did last year so I can only be grateful and just keep working with the guys to push us forward."