Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne both hailed a positive qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix after sealing 10th and 11th respectively on the grid for Sunday's race.
Both drivers were in contention to progress into Q3, with just over one tenth of a second all that separated Ricciardo – who took the final slot – and Vergne. The Australian said the achievement was a real boost for both himself and the team ahead of what will be his first home grand prix on Sunday.
"That was nice," he said immediately after the session. "The ambition at the start of the weekend, as far as qualifying was concerned, was to get into Q3 and we have achieved that.
"Before we got to Melbourne, we did not have a clear idea of how our pace would compare with the other teams. In fact, I thought Q3 might have been a little bit out of reach, so this was a really positive result for me and for the team. Today, we have laid the groundwork for Sunday: we should have a strong race as we are in good shape.
"Jean-Eric is not far behind me, which will keep me on my toes, so as a team we can be pleased with the work we have done."
Vergne admitted he was a little disappointed to miss out on Q3, but said there were still several positives to take from the session.
"That was not bad I think, even if it is a bit disappointing to have missed out on Q3 by a very small margin," he reflected. "I got a very good lap in Q1, a bit less so in Q2. But I still have a lot to learn at this stage and the main thing is that everything went well and I am enjoying all the new experiences.
"There are many positives to be taken from the way qualifying went and I feel we have a car that should work well in tomorrow's race. My target for tomorrow? To score some points."
Toro Rosso's chief engineer Laurent Mekies said such a strong early showing was a good portent for the season ahead.
"The outcome of qualifying is positive, especially when you consider the midfield is extremely close which meant we had an enjoyable fight with our rivals," he said. "Ending up P10 and P11, in Daniel's case at his first race with us and in Jean-Eric's case on his first ever Formula 1 qualifying, is a very good sign."