Sergio Perez said it was the Williams car of Alex Albon in his way that caused him to go over track limits during a crucial quali lap.
The Mexican thought he had been spared the embarrassment of a fourth consecutive failure to make it to Q3 only for race control to delete his lap time after he, like many drivers, crossed the white line on the entrance into Turn 10.
It meant another failure to make Q3 for Perez, the first time a Red Bull driver has failed to do four times in a row since 2008, but after the session, Perez refused to take responsibility instead blaming Albon for getting in his way.
Perez claimed that the Williams car caused him to go straight and off the track but that the stewards were not interested in his reasoning.
“We were a bit confused but then I got the feedback that it was on the way to 10 and it was all clear,” he told F1.com. “I was on a good lap but then all of a sudden on my final lap, I found I think Albon and I just went straight.
“I could not stop. I think I lost a tenth or a bit more than that, just by going straight but the stewards wouldn’t consider that I was blocked.”
It means yet more recovery work to do for Perez whose run of failing to reach the podium could stretch to four races should he be unable to make sufficient ground during Sunday’s race.
One man who did not accept Perez’s excuse was his boss Christian Horner who frustratingly told Sky Sports F1 that the Mexican had been warned multiple times.
“He’s got the pace today,” Horner said. “He’s got a car that was easily capable of being on the first or second row.
“He was matching Max [Verstappen]’s times. Stay in the white lines.
“It was strike one, strike two, strike three and that was it. Hugely frustrating because he could have been there, he could have done it so that’s the frustration. It’s fantastic that we’ve got the pole but it feels not complete.”
As Horner noted, Red Bull’s disappointment was softened by another pole for Verstappen who will start first on the grid for the fourth consecutive race. He still has some way to go to match the record of Ayrton Senna who achieved the feat eight times in a row from the 1988 Spanish Grand Prix to the 1989 USA Grand Prix.