Nick Heidfeld felt he still had some way to go to fully reacclimatize to Formula 1 after narrowly missing out on a top 10 start in the Japanese Grand Prix.
In his second event back with Sauber after a year on the sidelines, Heidfeld looked set to reach Q3 until Michael Schumacher's late improvement in Q2 edged him back to 11th.
"I was obviously very close to making it into the top 10 - literally in the last second Michael went faster and kicked me out of Q3," said Heidfeld. "I am still busy learning how to drive with these tires, and especially finding out how to get the most out of the softer compound which we used in Q2 but not a lot before here in Suzuka.
"I really have to concentrate on this when I leave the garage on option tires, as it is not automatic yet. However, I keep learning and I changed my driving style after the Singapore weekend. The fact that on my car we are tight on engines and they have significant mileage doesn't really help either."
The German still outqualified his teammate Kamui Kobayashi, who was frustrated to have blown a lap that could have got him into the top 10 on home ground.
"Until the very last corner I was good enough for Q3, but then I made a mistake and I feel sorry about that," said the top Japanese driver. "My car was good, and the balance and setup seemed alright to me, although I didn't have much running on the circuit. Let's see what we can do, of course it would be great for me and the team to score points today."