Lotus continue to establish themselves as the strongest 'new team' giving the established midfield teams something to think about with Heikki Kovalainen finishing just 13 seconds off Rubens Barrichello while staying on the same lap as the leaders at Suzuka.
Jarno Trulli also finished on the lead lap; a further nine seconds down the road from Kovalainen after the Italian saw his first stint compromised with a gearbox problem.
"What a great race for the whole team! I made an incredible start, no wheelspin, the perfect clutch slip and was suddenly past a load of cars and up into 14th," said Kovalainen.
"After that the first couple of stints were great. The car was working really well on the soft tyres and the stops were mega.
"Also - the fact that this is the first time this season we didn't see any blue flags is very satisfying. Every time you have to let someone pass you are artificially slowing up your own race, and it shows our car keeps improving, as does the whole team."
Trulli, also mirrored Kovalainen's optimism.
"For the whole team this is a pretty significant result," he said. "We completed every lap of the race, and while that might not seem all that important when there are guys winning championships up ahead, it still shows we keep on improving, and I'm really pleased for everyone, here at the track and back at the factory, that we can leave Japan on a high again and head to the next race in Korea.
Although this wasn't Lotus' strongest result in terms of positioning, it was the performance of the car relative to the other teams which encourages the team.
"That was a really pleasing race weekend for the whole team. For the first time both cars finished on the lead lap and even though we were helped by the safety car our level of performance was still the best we have ever seen relative to cars around us," said Lotus Chief Technical Officer, Mike Gascoyne.
Lotus can now realistically begin to say they can challenge the established teams and finishing more than a lap ahead of the existing new teams Virgin and HRT also pays testament to this.
by Simon Evans