Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said he was delighted to see Heikki Kovalainen split the two Renault cars during the Singapore Grand Prix - stating afterwards that the race was 'probably the best we have had in our short life in Formula One so far'.

The Finn produced a solid drive to take the chequered flag in 16th place which, although not his highest result of the season, was ahead of the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.

Team-mate Jarno Trulli had looked like producing a similar strong performance before being halted by a gearbox issue and Kovalainen insisted that upgrades made by the team had been key to the performance.

"I'm really pleased with the performance today and we should all be happy as it was a great race from the whole team," he said. "The pitstop 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 tyres 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.

"After a race like today I can't wait to get back in the car, so we leave Singapore feeling pretty good about the last few races of the season."

While there was disappointment at Trulli's retirement, team boss Fernandes insisted that Kovalainen's showing was enough to suggest that Lotus is now in a position to challenge some of the more established teams through the remainder of the season.

"For me that is probably the best race we have had in our short life in Formula One so far," Fernandes 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."