Max Chilton had one of his best qualifying sessions of the season on Saturday, putting his Marussia onto the grid in 19th position for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at the historic Suzuka circuit.

It equals his qualifying success at China earlier this year, although his best starting position so far in 2013 came at Belgium when a rain-hit qualifying session enabled him to qualify in 16th position among the confusion of showers, rain tyres and a drying track. In many ways, however, this weekend's performance is the more genuinely satisfying for the 22-year-old from Reigate.

"I'm so happy to have put us ahead of both Caterhams in qualifying for the first time since China," said Chilton. "One would have been a result, but to beat both [Charles] Pic and [Giedo] van der Garde is really incredible and shows just how much fight there is in all of us at this crucial stage in the season."

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It's even more impressive since the team lost a lot of testing time on Friday after Chilton's team mate Jules Bianchi crashed out in the morning session and the team had to spend the rest of the day building a new car for him, meaning that the burden of carrying out the test program fell entirely on Chilton.

"It has not been the most straightforward weekend for us on track," admitted Chilton. "Leaving the garage after the red flag [for Jean Eric-Vergne's Toro Rosso catching fire] with just under three minutes of the Q1 session remaining seemed like a tough ask.

"The track conditions had also shifted in that time and the wind made things more difficult in sector one for sure," he continued. "I gave it all I had and my lap was as good as I could have asked of myself.

"I'm just really looking forward to my first Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and I hope we can carry the momentum through into the race tomorrow. Well done to all of us in the Team!" he added.

As for Bianchi, the Frenchman was happy to be back in action but very much on the backfoot after missing so much practice time on Friday at a circuit that he's not competed at before, after ploughing at high speed into the tyre barrier at the second Degner on Friday morning.

"It has been a bit of a struggle since FP1 and with only 33 laps over the weekend so far - most of them from this morning - we haven't had the opportunity to get back to where we started out so well on Friday morning, plus we have had to focus mainly on the race," said Bianchi.

"Qualifying did not work out so well for me," he admitted. " We had planned to do just one option run but because of the red flag my quick lap was on scrubbed rather than new options.

"The race will be hard as well because there is a big job to do from the back row. On a positive, the team have done a fantastic job with building up the car and enabling me to get so close to van der Garde in such a small space of time and this is an achievement in itself. I hope to build on that tomorrow and have a better race."

Bianchi reported no problems from his elbow, which took a knock in his FP1 crash and left him nursing it with ice for the rest of the day.

"My elbow got stuck between the chassis and the seat so when I had the oversteer moment, I could not turn right any more," he said. "I am okay now, I had some pain in the elbow, but now I'm fine."