Romain Grosjean says progressing through to Q2 was a surprise but reckons Lotus could have made it through to the final segment of qualifying.
Lotus has endured a miserable season so far with reliability issues plaguing the E22, but Grosjean will start from 15th on the grid after taking advantage of wet conditions in Malaysia.
"It was definitely a good surprise to reach Q2 today, and I think we would have had the potential to reach Q3 had it not been for a miscommunication towards the end of the session when I should have come in for new tyres," he said.
"At the moment we're just trying to make the best of everything we have and then to put that together. It's clear there has been some good progression; today we made some strong improvements and didn't have many problems, so we just need a bit more of that!
"The car was on the track when we wanted it to be, and we were able to try a few different things - some of which worked, and some of which didn't - and it was a good Q1. Q2 could have been better, but overall we'll hope that everything goes well tomorrow and then we'll take it from there."
Pastor Maldonado will line up alongside Grosjean and believes the red flag caused by Marcus Ericsson's accident hurt his progress.
"I was on a good flying lap when the red flag came out and, for sure, I would have improved my position if I had been able to finish my lap," he said.