Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were both left disappointed after only qualifying seventeenth and eighteenth in Shanghai today.
Ricciardo at least made it into Q2, and had one up on Vergne in that regard, but will still start tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix on the same row as his French team-mate.
“P17 is not going to put a smile on my face, as I had expected to do better today,” said the Australian. “I drove as hard as I could, but that did not produce a good enough lap time. With the package we had, I don't think I could have got much more out of it.
“Hopefully tomorrow will be better and then we must look at trying to improve our qualifying performance for the next race. We are not where we want to be, especially as before the weekend, we had expected to be closer to the top ten.
“At the moment we don't have the answers to what happened. This weekend, we had a few small updates but we also tried a few drastic measures in a way that required me to drive differently, so either we can make it work in Bahrain or we could go back to something we understand a bit better.”
Vergne finished in the points last time out in Malaysia after starting the race from this same position, but the Frenchman is adamant that the qualifying performances need to improve.
“I am not feeling good after that,” said Vergne. “I'm not really sure what happened this afternoon, but we lacked speed. My lap was not exceptional, but nor was it bad, so we have to try and understand why it was so slow.
“All we can do is try and have a good afternoon tomorrow and then improve the car for the coming races, because what happened this afternoon was simply bizarre.
“It's true that I got a good result starting low down the grid in Malaysia, but it would be nice to at least start higher up the order quite soon.
“I will feel better tomorrow morning and will look forward to seeing what the race might bring.”
Chief engineer Laurent Mekies is optimistic that things will be better in the race tomorrow, and thinks that some heavy experimentation in the lead up to the qualifying session may have had a negative influence on the result today.
“Obviously, this was a disappointing qualifying for us and today we clearly lacked the pace we needed to be in the fight,” he said. “We now have to look at where we lost this performance.
“We made quite a few changes to the cars from yesterday and during this morning's free practice and we must assess where we did not go in the right direction.
“So far this weekend, we explored a quite different direction in terms of set-up and maybe it cost something in terms of ultimate pace in qualifying. However, it was a job that needed to be done and we must work out how to improve it for tomorrow. However, I believe the situation for the race is still very much open for us to get a reasonable result, as the gaps are in fact relatively small.”