Sergio Perez admits his qualifying pace came as a surprise after Sauber failed to break into the top 10 in any of the three practice sessions at the Buddh circuit.
The Mexican claimed a share of the fourth row for Sunday's race, lapping little over one second slower than Sebastian Vettel's overall benchmark.
That came despite missing first practice due to illnes and then managing a best of 12th fastest over the next two sessions.
"Today's result is a nice surprise and it was hard work to get there," Perez admitted.
"I am personally very happy with P8 and I am really pleased for the team.
"It was a great effort from the guys to improve the car after Friday when we were struggling so much.
"In Q2 I think I managed to get in a perfect lap. The one in Q3 wasn't that good but still OK.
"I am very motivated for tomorrow's race and want to score as many points as possible."
As Perez flourished, team-mate Kamui Kobayashi floundered, winding up just 17th.
The 26-year-old put the disparity between himself and Perez down to a basic set-up error which was compounded by a single-run fuel strategy.
"It is a shame I ended up 17th in qualifying. Actually the pace of the car is better now than it was before, but in the end in Q2 it all went wrong," Kobayashi explained.
"I had decided to take fuel for only one lap and then we made a mistake with the car's settings, which caused the brake balance to be completely wrong.
"I then didn't have a second chance because of the fuel, so I did my best time on a used set of soft tyres instead of making use of the fresh ones at the end.
"However, tomorrow we have to make the most out of the tyres we still have available and the fact this circuit allows for overtaking."