He was hoping to be in contention for a spot on the front row, but Daniel Ricciardo ended up nearly a second off pole and very confused after his botched Singapore Grand Prix qualifying session.
The Aussie was on the attack at the outset in Q1, topping the timesheet and sharpening his RB14 in preparation for the evening's final shootout.
But a progressive drop-off in pace thereafter left the Red Bull driver behind all his fellow front-runners in Q3, including Max Verstappen who outran Ricciardo by six tenths, beating his team mate in qualifying for the ninth consecutive time this season.
A state of affairs that a frustrated Ricciardo struggled to understand.
"We had a little bit of an issue but that’s not the reason why we dropped off so much pace," he told Sky F1.
"We were there, made changes after P3 and after Q1 it felt like we were there and could run with it, but we just stayed as a stalemate and I don’t really know why.
"Right now, I am struggling to let qualifying go. It’s still too soon," added Ricciardo.
"Even with good pace here, it’s so tricky to overtake. We will try and do something. All we can hope for if the cars in front, their tyres fall away and they’re forced then to do a two-stop.
"Otherwise, if everyone does a one-stop, hope for someone to run on the track like they did in 2015 I guess."
More seriously, Ricciardo isn't abandoning all hope for race day and will dig deep to try and find the reasons for his relative under-performance.
"I know we have good race pace but on a street circuit Qualifying is so important," he said.
"It was strange and frustrating but hopefully we will find some answers."