The Force India team endured a disappointing qualifying session under the lights of Singapore's Marina Bay as neither Adrian Sutil or Tonio Liuzzi proved capable of repeating recent front row performances.
Hopes had been high for the team to at least make it into the second phase of qualifying following the outstanding results achieved in Belgium and Italy, but a combination of traffic and the tricky high downforce configuration required for the street course thwarted their ambitions, with Sutil starting from 16th and Liuzzi from 20th.
"After the outstanding performance at Spa and Monza, we were expecting more of a challenge this weekend for sure," team boss Vijay Mallya confirmed, "We feel we have a car that is now amongst the quickest in the field but, unfortunately, in high downforce trim, we are not seeing a reflection of this performance as teams that were behind us in Spa and Monza are ahead of us here.
"There are, however, only two extraordinarily high downforce tracks on the calendar - here and Monaco - so we cannot trade this improvement in performance for just one race. We are still looking forward to the grand prix, which is sure to be eventful, long and challenging, and will try our best to continue our current run of point-scoring finishes. We are, however, anticipating a better performance at the more traditional tracks of Suzuka and Interlagos, which will be sure to suit us a lot better."
Both Sutil and Liuzzi were able to post frontrunning results through the speed traps, but struggled through the technical sections of a course with myriad corners.
"As we can see, we are still very quick on the straights and on the high speed circuits such as Spa and Monza, but here it is all about downforce," Sutil commented, "It's a very similar configuration to Monte Carlo, but about twice as long, with twice as many corners - and that's why we lost so much over one lap.
"We have had a problem with the grip level the whole weekend. I did expect us to be a little bit more competitive, but the field is very tight and, if you lose out a bit in the traffic, suddenly you are at the back. I lost some time on my fastest lap when Giancarlo [Fisichella] was in front of me in the middle sector, and I finished 16th. It's going to be difficult, but let's see what we can do. It's a long race and anything is possible..."
Liuzzi, meanwhile, had the added problem of still getting used to a track he had only seen on simulators before the weekend.
"We knew we would struggle more on this type of circuit compared to the low downforce tracks such as Spa and Monza, but we didn't expect it would be this much," he said, echoing his team-mate's explanation, "We were suffering with a lack of traction and weren't able to find the right balance - Adrian and I seem to have the same problems. My quickest lap was quite clean, perhaps there were a couple of tenths more in it, but to get through to Q2 this time would have been quite difficult."
The Italian goes to the grid with one of the lightest starting fuel loads, but accepts that challenging for points is a tall order.
"With more fuel on board, we are quite competitive, but, from this point on the grid, it will be tough," he reasoned, "However, at a circuit like this, anything can happen and, if we have a good pace and a good balance, we could still get some points. Street circuits are always a bit crazy, so we won't give up just yet."