Jarno Trulli led the charge for the re-born Lotus team in qualifying for the European Grand Prix at Valencia in Spain on Saturday as the Lotus name gears up for its 500th F1 race.

Trulli has switched to a new chassis for this event and the Italian was a lot happier finishing Q1 on a 1 minute 40.658 seconds, which left him 1.3 seconds off the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, the next best runner.

"I'm feeling quite a lot happier now - things have been getting better all weekend now I have the new chassis, and as I've not had any real problems I've been able to work on the setup, which obviously helped today," said Trulli, who will line-up 19th on the grid.

"I do still have a bit of an issue with the brakes, but it feels like a new start from where I've been and I'm pleased with the performance today. We are another step ahead of the teams behind and I think we'll be okay tomorrow."

Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen meanwhile was two tenths slower in the sister car, on a 1m 40.882s and he will start 20th.

"It was a little disappointing for me out there today. I didn't feel as comfortable as I did yesterday, when I was very happy with the car. Today it seems I had to fight the car a bit, and I really had to attack to get some good times," Kovalinen revealed. "But it's okay. I'm not too worried, and tomorrow I will push again and try to bring the car home to the end of the race."

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus' chief technical officer, added: "I'm very pleased with qualifying today - it was a very solid effort from the whole team. We were actually 2.5 seconds off the quickest time in Q1, and percentage wise that's our best performance of the year so far.

"We've moved further away from the competition behind us, so overall it was a very solid performance, with the whole team continuing to move forward. Now we'll have to match that with a two car finish in the race tomorrow."

"There's a lot of good points that have come out of today - the main one is that we've finished quite comfortably ahead of Virgin and HRT, and it was great to hear Jarno happy over the radio - his new chassis looks like it may have brought about a change in luck, so let's hope that continues tomorrow," continued Lotus team boss, Tony Fernandes.

"Our engineers tell me we've taken another step forward today, and hopefully we'll get even more out of the new Cosworth engine in the race - it's very encouraging to see the performance of both of the Cosworth powered Williams cars today, so hopefully we can keep pushing like them and get both cars home tomorrow."