Sebastien Buemi blamed a driver error for failing to reach the second qualifying segment ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Toro Rosso driver said his car was capable of easily moving on to Q2, but a mistake in his final run meant the rookie ended up in 17th position.
Buemi, one of the stars of the last race in China, admitted he was disappointed with his performance.
"It should have been much better and I ought to have comfortably got through to Q2, but I made a mistake in the third sector," said Buemi.
"I'm disappointed with my performance as the car performed better than expected and with the sector times I was doing, maybe I should have been more cautious, just to make sure of getting into Q2. Track conditions were similar to this morning.
"Tomorrow, I still think we can have a good race, because this afternoon's performance does not show what the car is capable of, so I am hopeful I can make up some places. How many is difficult to say. As for the tyres, it's clear that the softer ones are those we will want to run the most in the race."
Sebastien Bourdais also had a day to forget after finishing at the bottom of the times, the Frenchman saying he was unhappy with his car's handling.
"Losing track time this morning did not help," he said. "This afternoon, my first run was quite good, better than I thought and I was optimistic. But on my second run, we picked up a lot of understeer, which I corrected with the front wing for the final run.
"But suddenly the car went the other way, with massive oversteer. The car is extremely sensitive to the changes we make and we suffered with a lack of downforce and therefore grip. It is disappointing to finish so far down."