Heikki Kovalainen and Team Lotus were delighted to beat Vitaly Petrov's Renault in the Singapore Grand Prix, as the Finn came home 16th.
Although the result was not Lotus's highest finish of the season, the team was pleased to have finished ahead of one of the more established squads on merit, with Kovalainen suggesting that updates brought in for Singapore had played a crucial role.
"I'm really pleased with the performance today and we should all be happy as it was a great race from the whole team," said Kovalainen. "The pit stop strategy worked out well for us and the boys worked brilliantly to get me out quickly each time, helping me make sure I could stay ahead of Petrov at each stop. The car felt balanced throughout the whole race and the tires worked well so I was able to pull away from Petrov and ended up finishing strongly in 16th.
"It's also good that the upgrade we've brought here has helped us take a small step forward and I think we'll see more from that in Suzuka where it will come more into its own."
Kovalainen's teammate Jarno Trulli had got among the Renaults and Toro Rossos at the start, but picked up a puncture in a collision with Jaime Alguersuari and later stopped with gearbox failure.
"I had another really good start and was ahead of both Renaults and the Toro Rosso," Trulli said. "They were pushing me but the car felt great and I was able to keep ahead of them pretty comfortably, coming out of the first stop still ahead and feeling good on the second set of tires. Then Jaime hit my left rear and I had to come which was pretty disappointing – it's just bad luck, really, but that meant I had to try and fight back which I did my best to do until the gearbox problem meant I had to pull over."
Alguersuari was given a drive-through penalty for the incident, to his surprise.
"I am not really sure why I got it, as I only made very light contact with Trulli," said the Toro Rosso driver, who eventually crashed out."
Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said the Singapore performance proved the team was now in a position to battle with those ahead for the rest of the year.
"For me that is probably the best race we have had in our short life in Formula 1 so far," he said. "Heikki drove an outstanding race and was able to keep pace with a lot of the cars around him, and pull away from the cars behind, and he made the most of the new package we brought here to finish very well. Jarno again suffered from bad luck and maybe the strategy we gave him was not the best, but we called it as we saw it and I am sure we will learn from how his race worked out.
"I am delighted for everyone back at the factory to see their hard work on the upgrade work out well on track, and I think we can look forward to a strong end to the season, knowing we can fight with established teams around us when the opportunities arise."