Senna happy after qualifying performance
Hispania achieved a landmark in their short Formula 1 career at the Turkish Grand Prix by out-qualifying another car on merit for the first time.
Bruno Senna beat Virgin's Lucas di Grassi and was closer to the faster Virgin of Timo Glock than in the past.
Senna, nephew of F1 legend Ayrton, said: "We have been working on the car set-up this weekend and finally the car is giving me some confidence."
Di Grassi said engine problems had hindered his performance.
Lotus consolidated their position as the fastest of the three new teams.
Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen qualified 19th and 20th, with the Italian 0.5secs ahead of Glock.
Since Monaco, when we changed the floor, it is giving me the confidence to push hard
Hispania have had a troubled introduction to F1.
They only just made the first race of the season after a change of ownership secured the team's future at the 11th hour following a troubled winter during which they struggled to find the money to race.
And they spent the first four races at long-haul destinations fighting to understand the car, which had not turned a wheel before turning up for the opening grand prix in Bahrain, and beginning to knock the team into shape.
But in Turkey they appeared to turn a corner.
Senna was only 0.522 seconds slower than Glock in qualifying at Istanbul. In Spain two races ago, the fastest Hispania - that of the Brazilian's team-mate Karun Chandhok - was 1.275secs slower than the German.
Senna said that the improvement was explained by a new diffuser, or floor, that was fitted to the car for the Monaco Grand Prix, the race after Spain.
Hispania have split from Dallara, which designed and built their car
"Since Monaco, when we changed the floor, it is giving me the confidence to push hard and we did a good lap time," he said.
The progress comes after the team confirmed in the run-up to this weekend's race that they had split from their car builder, the Italian manufacturer Dallara.
The decision came after Dallara failed to carry out any development work on the car.
Hispania will now aim to upgrade the car themselves under the guidance of former Williams, BAR and Red Bull designer Geoff Willis.
Senna said: "We are independent on development and it is a good thing for us. Everybody knows Geoff Willis is a very capable person. If we do some good development we can fight with the other teams."
Willis said he was keeping his expectations for the team realistic.
"The performance level at the moment is not what I'd like it to be but we are where we are and now's the time when we are going to start to try to improve the performance of the car and we are just beginning a programme to do that," he said.
"All the new teams have had quite a challenge and we have to look at them as our direct competitors but even so we have quite a lot of work to do to get up to the level of competition I'd like to have.
"I'd have to say I'm not particularly pleased by today and I'm not particularly negative - the car's reliable, we're learning how to operate it as a team.
"At the moment I think we're the most reliable of the new teams. It's one of the many battles."