Despite crashing late in the final practice session of the weekend, Nico Hulkenberg was surprised to see himself drop out of qualifying at the first hurdle.
The German crashed heavily through the Esses section of the Suzuka circuit with just a couple of minutes to go in FP3, bringing out the red flag.
However, despite the quick turnaround, the Renault mechanics got the repairs done, and Hulkenberg was surprised not to make it through Q1.
“My crew worked hard to get the car ready for qualifying and it was bad timing on my behalf to crash at the end of FP3,” Hulkenberg said after Saturday’s running.
“The car felt fine straight away and I was actually surprised we didn’t get through Q1 as both my laps felt pretty good.
“The improvement in my second lap simply wasn’t enough to get me through so that is frustrating.
“It is going to be challenging and difficult tomorrow, but of course we will fight.”
He will line up in P16, whilst his Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz starts the Japanese Grand Prix from P13.