Lotus will have two cars starting inside the top ten for the first time since the 2013 United States Grand Prix as the team confirmed the substantial step forward it has made over the winter ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado would make it through into the final phase of qualifying with their Mercedes-powered cars, already an improvement of what it managed as a team in 2014.

His first top ten start since the Spanish Grand Prix when he qualified fifth, Grosjean was delighted to be back in the upper half of the field.

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"I'm really happy to be back in Q3, and especially happy for our guys who have been working so hard over the last twelve months. We knew we had a good car from winter testing and today we are more or less where we thought we could be.

""It's a tight field and if I had sneaked another two tenths from my lap, I would have been seventh on the grid. I think we can generally be very happy with what we've been doing. Our long runs have looked good so far so let's see what we can do during the race tomorrow."

Maldonado, meanwhile, was similarly pleased to be competitive again and is looking forward to challenging for points in the race.

"Getting into the top ten is a pretty good result for us and it's positive to think that it could have been better as we did lose a little pace in the final qualifying session.

"Looking to the race it's quite encouraging as we're starting the season in a much better place than we were last year so it's all looking very promising. Fingers crossed, we're looking to have a good race tomorrow."