Lewis Hamilton admits a botched decision regarding the set-up of his MP4-27 is what cost him dearly in qualifying for the Japanese GP.
The McLaren driver, together with team-mate Jenson Button and the two Red Bull drivers, had been a favourite to take pole position ahead of Saturday's qualifying.
But while his three rivals claimed the top three positions on the timesheets, Hamilton brought his McLaren home in a disappointing ninth place, 1.488s adrift of pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton was quick to put up his hand and admit responsibility, saying he had opted for the wrong set-up.
"Today's qualifying session was one of the most disappointing of my year," Hamilton lamented.
"To be honest, I went the wrong way with the set-up and ended up with too much understeer.
"Until quali, the car had felt great all weekend, but I just couldn't make it turn this afternoon, and as a result I just couldn't extract the best from it."
The Brit, though, is not giving up, confident that through "good tyre management" he can work his way to the front of the field.
"Jenson showed that the car itself is quite good though - he did a great job today - and our long-run pace wasn't bad yesterday, either.
"So you never know what's going to happen in tomorrow's race.
"It's going to be a struggle, but I'll be pushing my hardest with the set-up I've got, and I hope that, through good tyre management, I'll be able to overtake some of the cars in front of me.
"I'll be trying to get as many points as I can tomorrow."
Hamilton arrived in Japan fourth in the Drivers' Championship on 142 points, 52 behind Championship leader Fernando Alonso.
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