Mercedes' dismal DTM qualifying showing at Valencia was down to a fundamental lack of grip, according to its motorsport boss Norbert Haug.
Robert Wickens was the manufacturer's best qualifier on Saturday in 14th spot in his Mucke Motorsport car, with championship leader Gary Paffett two places further back for HWA.
Worse still was that all the cars eliminated in Q1 were all from the Stuttgart marque, making it the first time since the four-stage qualifying system was adopted that one manufacturer has filled the bottom six positions.
"All our cars had the same problem. None of them had grip," Haug said. "We did not do a good enough job today.
"It's very unusual because you don't just have a guy like Gary, who is leading the championship and was one of the fastest drivers at Oschersleben suddenly in P16, especially at a track that's not day-and-night different to Oschersleben.
"It's just not possible that the car stops working, but it is possible you can get lost sometimes. We've had it before, but probably not to this extreme level."
Haug, who saw his other title-challenging driver Jamie Green qualify 18th, said that making a knee-jerk reaction to the problem and opting for a radical solution in warm-up would be the wrong course of action to take.
"A strong team is a strong team when it does not panic," he added. "I cannot promise that we will make big steps tomorrow, but I promise you that we will keep calm.
"I'm 22 years in this business and have had many top, top results and some difficult races too. But we have all experienced that. We just have to work hard and stick together."
Paffett's only other title rival, BMW's Bruno Spengler, will start 12th.