Robert Kubica blamed a general lack of grip on his Renault after failing to make the top 10 in qualifying for the first time in 22 races. The Pole will start the season finale in Abu Dhabi from 11th on the grid after he was outqualified by teammate Vitaly Petrov for only the second time this season.
"I have been struggling with the car since yesterday and we simply didn't manage to get on top of the issues, especially for qualifying," said Kubica. "The rear of the car was sliding a lot this evening, so it was hard to get on the power early enough to set a good lap time.
"I tried everything, I was sideways in a lot of corners, but that's how it was today. It's disappointing to miss out on the top 10, but it's also the first time this year that I have had a free tire choice for Sunday, and we will have to see if we can make this into an advantage for tomorrow.
"The season is still not over, and we will try to finish it with some more points."
Petrov, for his part, was pleased to have made Q3 for the second race in succession: "The car has felt pretty good all weekend for me. We have made progress in each session, especially with the feel of the brakes, which is very important at this circuit, and it felt like all the parts of the package were working well today.
"I have been running in the top 10 most of the weekend, and it was nice to deliver this potential in qualifying. Looking ahead to the race, it will be a very tough one for the tires, and we need to think carefully about using the right strategy to cope with this."