Team principal Tony Fernandes insisted it was a 'great day' for Team Lotus after Heikki Kovalainen qualified in an impressive 15th for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Finn made the most of problems for both Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello to make it through to Q2 and then used the softer Pirelli tyres to qualify ahead of Force India pair Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil in 15th.

It marked the best qualifying performance of the year for the team and matched Kovalainen's qualifying result in the rain-affected session in Malaysia last year.

"I am so thrilled," Fernandes said. "It is almost unbelievable but this is a great day for Team Lotus and just reward for the effort that the whole team keeps putting in. I am so thrilled for everyone associated with our team. Heikki did a fantastic lap and the whole team worked together brilliantly to give him the chance to take his car into Q2.

"We have a lot of work to do so we are not going to get carried away, but it is important that we enjoy days like this and the feeling that comes with hard work being rewarded with this sort of result. As I keep saying, these small steps will keep us moving up the grid, so well done and thank you to everyone."

Kovalainen meanwhile was equally happy with the performance.

"This is obviously a great day for Team Lotus and I want to thank everyone here and back at the factory for working so hard to get us to this next step in our story," he said. "There is a lot more to come from this car and while we have performed really well today we can see that we can keep progressing and taking the fight to the cars around us on merit.

"With the work we did overnight and in FP3 I can feel that we have found a much better balance in the high-speed corners, and we can work more on how it feels in the low speed corners which is where I think we will find even more time, but for now this is a good feeling and puts us into a good position for the race tomorrow."

Team-mate Jarno Trulli qualified 18th in the sister despite an electrical issue limited him to just one flying lap right at the end of Q1.

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