Bruno Senna delighted his home fans by making it through to the top-ten shoot-out today ahead of Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
Senna will now start ninth on the grid for the 19th and final round in the F1 2011 World Championship, the fourth time he has managed to make it into Q3, since being drafted in by Lotus Renault GP to replace Nick Heidfeld back in August.
He also managed to beat his more experienced team-mate, Vitaly Petrov again too - the fifth time he has done so in eight attempts.
“I'm very happy with that. It was not what I was expecting when the weekend started but it's good news,” said Senna. “We knew the car had good potential here, but we just weren't sure the level of that potential – the R31 behaved very well today!
“In qualifying 2, the team put a good car together and we did a great job. It's a shame we had used tyres going into Q3 because we could have had an even better result. Having said that, being in Q3 was a victory in itself.”
Petrov meanwhile will start down in 15th - his best lap in Q2, a 1m 14.053s, over half a second off Senna.
“I'm naturally disappointed with my position because we have been improving the car step by step throughout the weekend and we thought there was more to come from it,” said the Russian.
“We changed the car set-up quite a lot to accommodate for the change in temperature between FP3 and qualifying. As for qualifying itself, I didn't actually feel I made many mistakes; I had quite a quick lap at the end of Q1 but then I lost some grip on my lap in Q2, which left me where it did.”
“We are pleased for Bruno as that was a strong qualifying performance for him during his home race weekend. He put in a couple of good laps when it mattered and he's deserving of that position,” summarised trackside operations director, Alan Permane. “It was unfortunate for Vitaly; he didn't get his lap together when it counted, but generally we are happy with the performance of the team and are now looking forward to tomorrow's race.
“The forecast for tomorrow suggests there are likely to be some thundery showers so that will give us all something to think about and could make it an interesting race to finish off the season.”