Bruno Senna gave the Hispania Racing team a boost in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday, when he managed to out qualify Lucas di Grassi and place his F110 between the two Virgins.
It was a welcome result for the F1 2010 newcomer and another milestone as it the first time HRT has outpaced another team's car in a dry qualifying session.
Indeed in almost all the races this season both Hispania cars have been right at the bottom of the times, placed 23rd and 24th - with the exception of Monaco two weeks ago, when Ferrari man Fernando Alonso missed qualifying after crashing out in practice and also in Malaysia, where di Grassi started last after technical problems limited him to just two laps near the end of the rain-hit Q1 session.
“The qualifying was good today and the lap was quite decent,” said Senna, who will start 22nd. “We still have our best performance in qualifying. We were close to the Virgins and could split them. Maybe tomorrow we have an interesting race.
“The car balance was better and we progressed on that. The car was good and we managed to find a compromise in the setup and so the car was good to drive. It gave me a lot of confidence today and I could push. I felt quite comfortable in it and hopefully we can keep this for the race and then fight more with the other teams.
“It is going to be a very tough race, for sure. Depending on how everything is going. You can rest a little bit on few laps and then you can push harder again. It will be a long and tough race tomorrow with 58 laps. It is this first anti clockwise circuit of the season and not easy for anyone. But we are all fit so we are fine.”
Despite Senna's success though, di Grassi revealed that the reason he was seven tenths slower – and over a second off his team-mate, Timo Glock, was because he suffered a power loss issue.
“Despite the improvements that we made to the car set-up overnight, today has been very frustrating for me as we had an issue with the engine,” the Brazilian explained.
“Timo was able to demonstrate the true potential of the package and so it was disappointing for me to end up so far away because of the problem. I hope we can look forward to something more representative tomorrow and have a good race because I think we can have a good day.”
Virgin technical director, Nick Wirth added: “We're all very sorry that Lucas' day has been blighted by an issue with the engine that we fitted to his car last night, which had already completed two Grands Prix. The power loss from this engine is the sole reason that Lucas is so far behind Timo and having discussed the issue with Cosworth we have no other option but to change the engine for the race tomorrow.”