Jenson Button has blamed a 'misunderstanding' for his failure to make it through to Q2 today in Belgium.
Button, who won in Hungary last time out, had been right on the pace in practice and maintained that form in the first part of qualifying.
However the second session did not go to plan and he ended up being bumped down the times and will now line up 13th on the grid for the twelfth round in the F1 2011 World Championship – the first time this season he has not made it into the top-ten shoot-out.
“Failing to get into Q3 was a misunderstanding between the team and me,” Button explained. “I'd just done a fast lap, and was cooling the tyres, not knowing that there wasn't any more time left in the session. If I'd known, obviously I wouldn't have slowed down on my final lap.
“Obviously, with the track getting drier with every lap, it was vital to be going quickly until the end of the session. I think I was second- or third-quickest when I did my lap; it's just a pity I that didn't get a chance to put in another lap.
“It's very disappointing. Obviously, in Q1, I was a second quicker than everyone. Our car is clearly one of the quickest around here, and it's going to be tough starting back in 13th.
“But I've just got to deal with it now. I think I'll just have a cup of tea and move on from it.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was similarly unhappy: “Jenson had a disappointing afternoon. On a drying track, which was getting quicker all the time, he backed off on what would have been his final lap in Q2,” Whitmarsh added.
“We'll investigate exactly why that happened, but with hindsight perhaps we should have instructed him to keep pushing because the fact that he backed off showed that he wasn't aware that he was on his last available flying lap.
“Consequently, when he backed off, other drivers who had kept pushing were able to improve their times on the grippier track surface that the drying track provided, and as a result Jenson was bumped down to P13.
“I'd classify it as a misunderstanding, and Jenson does too. But we all know what a gritty competitor he is – and, undoubtedly, he can score points from P13. Race day at Spa-Francorchamps is always notoriously unpredictable, and Jenson's ability to plan and pace a race in tricky and changeable conditions may well yet pay dividends this weekend.”