Getting back onto the second row of the grid for the fifth time in 2013 was undeniably a great achievement for Romain Grosjean in Austin, but he was quick to say that it had taken the team a lot of hard work to pull off.

"It's not been the easiest weekend in terms of finding the right balance with the car, so to be third on the grid is a good result," he said. "We managed to go through Q1 on the hard tyre which was not the plan initially, but it was a nice surprise and gave us options for the two following sessions."

As for Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn's first qualifying performance in a Lotus having jumped into the car at just a few days notice after his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen was forced out by back surgery saw him net a place in Q3 and finish with eighth place on the grid for the start of tomorrow's United States GP - an impressive showing by any standards.

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"I knew yesterday that we had a good car, but I didn't really set myself a target for qualifying," Kovalainen said. "Overall, everything's been positive so far and we got into the top ten.

"I felt that I got pretty much everything I could from it today, as I struggled a bit compared to yesterday with the cooler temperatures this afternoon," he added. "I'm not making any predictions, but we've seen that Kimi could do pretty well working forwards from similar grid positions so hopefully tomorrow we can have another good day."

"It's great for the team to have Heikki in the top ten too," said Grosjean. "Especially with Mercedes and Ferrari struggling a little bit. As we're still fighting them hard in the Constructors' Championship, hopefully we can score good points with both cars tomorrow."

Alan Permane, Lotus' trackside operations director, was certainly feeling that the team's decision to opt for an experienced stand-in had been vindicated by Kovalainen's strong showing at the Circuit of the Americas so far.

"Heikki has come in and demonstrated that he's certainly got the ability to deliver at the front of the pack; progressing through to the top ten with no real dramas despite his limited experience with our car," he said.

"He's jumped into the car and delivered exactly what we've wanted from him. He qualified solidly in the top ten and has a realistic opportunity to score good points tomorrow. As we've seen this year, our car is often stronger in the race than it is in qualifying so he has great potential tomorrow; especially as he's learning the car more with every lap.

"We're very happy with today's performance from both drivers," added Permane. "Romain is once more leading the charge against the Red Bulls."

But is there any realistic chance of either man taking on the Red Bulls, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber looking so much faster than anyone else on the track on Saturday?

"Our long run pace looks good and there are overtaking opportunities here," he insisted. "The track has evolved well since last year, so there isn't such a hunt for grip and that should help tyre performance. We're feeling quite confident."

"Sebastian and Mark were very quick today, but of course we'll do our best to round up the bulls in the race - we are in Texas after all!" quipped Grosjean.