Pedro de la Rosa says HRT has "taken a huge stride" forward by qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

14018 - De la Rosa hails 'huge stride' from HRT

HRT was unable to test its 2012 car before the start of the season and as a result neither de la Rosa nor Narain Karthikeyan qualified for the season-opening race in Australia. At Sepang, however, the team managed to cover a lot more mileage during the practice sessions and both cars were within 107%, ensuring their first race starts of the season.

De la Rosa said that he was encouraged by the progress the team had made in setting up the car and felt there was more performance to be found, but warned that completing the race would be a tough challenge.

"It was a good day," de la Rosa said. "From the first lap in the morning I felt that the car had improved notably and we improved our times significantly. We've lowered our time by more than a second (from practice to qualifying) and every time we modify something new we're going quicker. We could have improved our times even more during the qualifying session. I was only able to do one lap but it was enough.

"The important thing was to qualify and we did. The team has proved that in a short amount of days it managed to have the DRS ready and improve the power steering and other aspects of the car. We've taken a huge stride and I'm very satisfied because of that. Now we have to see how [the race] goes in long distance because it will be the first time we string so many laps together, which won't be easy in this weather."