With their focus still firmly on overhauling Mercedes for fifth place in the 2012 constructor championship, the team and drivers at Sauber were left frustrated at not being able to contend for positions higher up the starting grid for Sunday's 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
"We had hoped to put at least one car in the top ten, but we didn't make it," confessed Sauber's head of track engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "It was kind of a normal day, everything went okay, but the performance was not totally satisfactory."
Dall'Ara added that the field had been exceptionally tight in qualifying, and that the smallest margins lost on a lap could end up with big differences in grid position.
“My last lap was a good one and I think this is just about the maximum possible for us here," admitted Sergio Perez. "Q3 today wasn't within reach, although yesterday I hoped it would be."
He'll start from 12th position, unless the race stewards' post-race investigation of an incident between him and Williams' Bruno Senna sees him penalised for blocking.
Despite that, the McLaren-bound Mexican was hopeful that tomorrow would be another day out on the track: "I have confidence in our race pace and believe we will be able to score points tomorrow," he said.
His team mate Kamui Kobayashi was even further off the pace at Yas Marina, and was lucky not to be eliminated at the end of Q1: only a late spin by Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne on his own final qualifying effort averted disaster for the Japanese driver.
“I have been struggling with the balance of the car since we got here," he revealed after qualifying in 16th position. "We did a lot of changes and managed to improve it to a certain extent, but I still had problems with the front brakes locking.
"This was also the reason for the mistake on my final flying lap in Q2, He added. "I hit the brakes, the front wheels locked and that was it."
Like Perez, he hoped that the longer runs during the Sunday race might suit him better on Sunday.
"I think in race conditions we should be better, but it won't be easy to improve," he said. "The circuit allows for overtaking, but you also need to have the speed for it."
“We know this is a challenging track for us and we have experienced issues throughout the weekend on our low fuel runs," added Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber's team principal. "This result is not a surprise for us, but at the same time we have seen our long run pace is good and now we have to make the most of it during the race.”