Sauber believes that the midfield grid positions it starts Sunday's Australian Grand Prix with do not accurately reflect the competitiveness of its C31 contender in Melbourne.
Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez were first and fifth fastest in Q1, only to fade away to 13th and 17th in second phase of qualifying as both drivers ran in to different problems.
"P13 and P17 definitely doesn't reflect our true potential," said the team's head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara, "but things just went wrong in qualifying.
"It was bad luck that both our drivers were on their first runs when Fernando Alonso spun. In the second outing Kamui got held up by Mark Webber, who made a mistake in corner one in front of Kamui when he was on his out lap and was then not able to heat up his tyres properly. Sergio suffered a gearbox failure which we need to analyze."
Perez admitted afterward that he felt it would be difficult to fight back from 17th position on the grid in a race in which his performance last year cast him as a potential star of the future.
"We made some setup changes to the car today and in Q1 I was busy adapting my driving style a bit," said the Mexican. "In Q2 I knew exactly what to do but then I could not shift anymore because of a gearbox problem.
"It is a true shame as there was a lot more to come from the car and from myself. Starting from 17th will make it very difficult to get a good result."
Kobayashi was equally disappointed: "In Q1 I was really happy with the car and the grip and, of course, it felt great to have set the fastest lap. But then on my second run in Q2 with another new set of soft tyres I just could not find grip. I have no explanation for that, it felt totally different. I also had traffic in the last sector, but the main surprise was the lack of grip."