Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne blamed his Toro Rosso team for an incorrect call to use slick super-soft tyres in Q2, a decision that he said cost him a place in Q3.
"Qualifying was going quite well on my first run," said Vergne. "When I came into the pits after the long first run on intermediates, I was expecting to fit the same type of tyres, but the team opted to put me on slicks.
"I believed they had a better picture of the situation than I did, but it turned out to be the wrong choice and cost me a chance to get into Q3, which is a shame."
Vergne ended up 13th one place ahead of team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Another disappointed driver was Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 World Champion, who qualified 10th for McLaren. “I haven’t thought too much about it yet and I don’t really want to,” he said. “Yeah, I knew it would be tough, but I didn’t expect to be 10th after I did my lap and I didn’t expect to be three seconds off the pace…”
Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa, who has survived a few off-the-asphalt excursions this weekend, was fourth-quickest and happy, but warned: “We have to be ready for anything. The conditions, the rain, the track… anything can happen here today.”
Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas had done well to make it into Q1 for Williams but couldn’t bridge the gap to the top 10. “It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session to start my Formula One career,” he admitted. “It was good to get through Q1 yesterday but the conditions were tricky again today as it was getting drier all the time. We tried the supersoft tyre, but unfortunately it didn’t allow us to improve our lap time. We will now focus on getting ready for the race later and will aim to do our best to get into a points-scoring position.”
Closer to the front, Nico Rosberg swallowed the disappointment of being out-qualified by new Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton after his strong showing in free practice. “That’s a good team result this morning if you compare to where we were at the end of last year, so we have made some good progress over the winter, which is down to the fantastic work of the team back at the factories,” said the German. “However, we can also see that there is still a gap to the quickest team. I was very quick in the wet but later it didn’t work out as well on the slicks.”