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Pedro de la Rosa celebrates HRT's gains after outqualifying Timo Glock's Marussia in Bahrain

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT, SakhirPedro de la Rosa hailed his HRT team's progress after putting on his strongest qualifying performance of the season so far in Bahrain.

The Spaniard, who had failed to qualify for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, managed to finish ahead of the Marussia of Timo Glock and will start the race from 21st position.

De la Rosa was also just two tenths of a second off Glock's team-mate Charles Pic, and the HRT driver was delighted with the progress made.

"I'm very happy, to be honest," said de la Rosa. "We come from not qualifying in Australia not long ago, so when I saw the times we posted I was glad.

"For us it's an important jump and, sincerely, at such a complicated track for us as this one, we didn't expect to finish ahead of one Marussia, so that's satisfying."

De la Rosa, however, conceded the race will be very tough because of the tyre degradation.

"Tyre degradation is high and tomorrow I will have to find the compromise in the first part of the sector in order to have enough rubber for the last one to maintain some grip.

"We know that the race will be a three-stop or four-stop one and that we're going to struggle, but so will everyone else so we have to go for it and do the best we can."

Team-mate Narain Karthikeyan qualified at the bottom of the grid, but the Indian was also delighted with the improved form of his team.

"Yesterday was a big struggle for me. We had a tough morning but later improved. Today we made some good progress and in qualifying the car was quite good. In sector two I had a misfire on my fastest lap, at Turn 12, which cost me a bit of time.

"The amazing thing is that we haven't done much to the car but we're quite close to the group ahead of us and that's very positive."

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