Nico Rosberg admits it was a "quite a shock" to be eliminated in Q2 of the German Grand Prix on Saturday.
The German, who won the British GP last time out, was expected to challenge for pole position, but instead he was forced to watch Q3 from the sidelines after his Mercedes team shot themselves in the foot.
Rosberg was easily one of the fastest men early in Q2 and those on the pit wall decided not to send him out later in the session for a stint on the softer tyres. It backfired as he dropped out of the top 10.
While his team-mate Lewis Hamilton went on to claim pole position, Rosberg will start in P11.
"It was quite a shock," said Rosberg. "I didn't see it coming. The team didn't expect the track to ramp up that much.
"I can't believe I am standing here right now.
"I thought I would be easily on the front row today."
Although starting so low on the grid is a massive setback for Rosberg's hopes of challenging for the race win, the German has one trick up his sleeve: his tyres.
"Degradation-wise, it's better," he said. "The tyres are going to come to our advantage now."
Team principal Ross Brawn owned up to the mistake after qualifying, saying they didn't get things right with his firt run in Q2.
"It was just a misjudgement we made. We had a cutoff time that we thought would be reasonably comfortable, he achieved it but the track seemed to get a lot quicker at the end and we hadn't anticipated it," he told reporters.
"He didn't have the greatest of laps anyway so that was added to the frustration but we didn't make the right call on that one so we'll have live with it and see what benefits it might bring for the race, because of course Nico's now got free tyre choice."
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