Nick Heidfield had a day to forget as he was the big name casualty in Q1 as he dropped out in his first race as Robert Kubica's replacement at Renault.
Renault had a mixed day in qualifying as young driver Vitaly Petrov impressed with a sixth place finish but they will be more concerned with Heidfield's lack of performance.
Heidfield suffered KERS-related troubles and a busy track on both of his runs leaving him marooned in the bottom seven.
He said: “I'm disappointed to be starting the season from so far back. It wasn't an easy session and I had a problem with the KERS, which meant I had to change some settings, and that cost me one of my timed laps.”
“Then, there was so much traffic and I tried to find some free space, but it didn't work out for me. It's bad luck, but I must try and put that behind me now.”
“As we have seen with Vitaly, the car seems to have good pace and the race is wide open, so hopefully I can move forward and fight for points.”
Following Kubica's horrific injury there were question marks over whether Petrov would be able to deliver but he silenced the critics as he outperformed a Ferrari and Mercedes.
He added: “there was a lot of pressure in Q3 because I only had one run, right at the end of the session. So there were no second chances and I'm glad I was able to deliver the lap.
“The car has felt good right from the start of practice and we've improved it constantly during each session. I think we are in a great position for the race and that we can fight for some points tomorrow.”