SINGAPORE, Sept 25 (AFP) - Heikki Kovalainen and Team Lotus said they were delighted to beat Russian Vitaly Petrov's Renault in the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, proving they could battle with the more established teams.
"I'm really pleased with that performance and we should all be happy as it was a great race from the whole team," said the Finn, who finished 16th on the floodlit street circuit.
"Our strategy worked well for us and the boys worked brilliantly to get me out quickly each time I had a pit stop. This helped me make sure I could stay ahead of Petrov at each stop."
His Lotus team-mate, Italian Jarno Trulli, made a good start but was forced to retire because of gearbox problems.
"I had another really good start and was ahead of both Renaults and the Toro Rosso," Trulli said.
"They were pushing me, but the car felt great and I was able to keep ahead of them pretty comfortably, coming out of the first stop still ahead and feeling good on the second set of tyres.
"Then Jaime (Alguersuari) hit my left rear and I had to come in which was pretty disappointing - it's just bad luck really, but that meant I had to try and fight back which I did my best to do until the gearbox problem meant I had to pull over."
Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said the performance proved the team was now in a position to battle with the rest of the midfield runners. "For me, that is probably the best race we have had in our short life in Formula One," he said.
"Heikki drove an outstanding race and was able to keep pace with a lot of the cars around him, and pull away from the cars behind, and he made the most of the new package we brought here to finish very well.
"I think we can look forward to a strong end to the season, knowing we can fight with established teams around us when the opportunities arise."