Romain Grosjean's disappointment and astonishment at missing the cut at the end of Q1 in qualifying on Saturday at Buddh International Circuit
was clear for all to hear on the radio communications when he was informed by the team he would be starting from 17th on the grid.
The team had gambled on a single run on the medium prime tyres, and it hadn't worked. "In hindsight, we made the wrong call with Romain,” trackside operations director Alan Permane admitted afterwards. "We expected him to progress quite comfortably through Q1 ... Unfortunately, this wasn't the case."
So what could Grosjean do on Sunday? The Frenchman himself didn't have any high hopes of success - even getting into the low end of the points would be problematic. As for getting on the podium - clearly, not a chance.
"I would not have bet a penny on me being on the podium today," Grosjean admitted after Sunday's race. "I wouldn't have bet a peanut on it. And it's just great - I think the karma was good today.
"I honestly thought in seventeenth I had not a very big hope of this," he added. "The best strategy, computer thing that we had was P4 - but that was taking that we had a very good start [and] a perfect race."
As it turned out, Grosjean didn't make any particularly dramatic gains off the starting grid. However, as other cars came in for very early stops to ditch the short-life soft option tyres as soon as possible, Grosjean continued to creep up the timing screens as he made his own set of tyres stretch 13 laps before pitting, by which time he'd been as high as fourth place. But after that he was back down in 15th place again for an extended run to the midpoint of the race.
"We did not have a very good start. I lost quite a lot of time behind [Sauber's Esteban] Gutierrez in the middle of the race who was quite... Yeah, defensive, let's put it that way," he said. "The race was all right. I tried to go through the field. It was tough until the end."
That seemed to seal Grosjean's fate - except that he had one more card to play, the team having decided to see whether the car could make the next 47 laps to the finish line without needing a second stop. It was an almost absurd Hail Mary attempt at a touchdown.
"We did a very brave strategy, as we did [in qualifying] - I think it was not the time to go safe and it paid off," he said. "I didn't know when the tyres were going to go off but the team did fantastic."