Mattias Ekstrom described Norisring DTM qualifying as "the biggest disappointment for a long time," after his pole position hopes vanished in Q4.
The Swede had set the pace in the second and third sections of qualifying - including a 48.822-second lap that was the fastest of the weekend so far - and was therefore the last man to set his Q4 time, which was the slowest of the four drivers that made it through to the one-lap shoot-out.
After being beaten by HWA Mercedes drivers Gary Paffett and Jamie Green and RBM BMW's Augusto Farfus, the Abt Audi driver was at a loss to describe what had gone wrong, saying: "I had a clean lap, but it just wasn't quick enough. There wasn't a big mistake, I just didn't have the level of grip I expected.
"It didn't feel like we were aiming for P4 today, but in the DTM you get bitten hard and Gary, Jamie and Augusto were faster. We have to analyse what went wrong now and what we have to do tomorrow to be competitive.
"If I'm beaten by thousandths or hundredths, I can live with that, but when the gap is too much... when you're out of the ballpark in terms of what's acceptable, I get disappointed."
Ekstrom was one of only two Audi drivers to qualify in the top 10, Spielberg winner Edoardo Mortara squeezing his Rosberg car into 10th.