Vitaly Petrov said it was only a small mistake that left him 18th on the Singapore Grand Prix grid, and now hopes Lotus Renault can rescue his race hopes with an innovative strategy.
The Russian was knocked out in Q1 after his teammate Bruno Senna made a big gain on his final lap, Petrov having made an error on his best effort.
"To be honest, it was not 100 pe cent a mistake," said Petrov. "It looks like a mistake because I didn't do something magic – I didn't brake late or try to take more speed into the corner or anything like this, I just lost the rear at Turn 13, and there are a lot of bumps there.
"Even on the data, I didn't try to attack too much. I was maybe a little bit harder than normal then tried to keep speed a little bit late, and suddenly I just lost the rear. Then of course when the rear slides, the tire temperatures come up, and in the last sector I lost one second compared to Bruno.
"For this track and with these tires, when you have a little slide, tire pressures come up, and then you cannot do anything."
Although Renault had anticipated a tough Singapore GP given its issues at other high-downforce tracks – and the disappointment of having to remove a bodywork upgrade due to overheating issues on Friday – Petrov admitted that 18th was worse than he feared. But he was confident the poor result was a blip and that the Japanese GP would bring more encouragement.
"Even before [the weekend] I said I knew it would be quite tough for us, very, very tough, but I believed we could still do something, but it looks like what Bruno did today was the maximum," said Petrov. "At Suzuka I think we can easily come back into the top 10 again, that is my feeling."
He is optimistic that having extra sets of tires left over will allow him to gain ground with an alternative strategy in the race.
"Of course, from my position I have two sets of new tires," he said.
"We will try to do something different to everyone around us, but I do not know what I can do.
"The team need to do a good strategy to try to jump people all the time. I think with these tyres we have left, we can do something."