Lance Stroll's bid to make the Q3 cut on Saturday in Sochi was thwarted by an engine overheating issue brought about by the Racing Point driver's lengthy immobilization in the pit lane.
Stroll was queuing up in the final minutes of Q2 waiting for the session to resume after a red flag halt when soaring temperatures forced the Canadian to shut off his engine.
The RP20 was wheeled back to its garage by Racing Point's mechanics, with Stroll's session grinding to a halt.
"It was a tough day," said Stroll who will line P13 on Sunday's grid while teammate Sergio Perez will launch his race from fourth.
"We were all set for the final few minutes of Q2 and raring to go after the red flag. Sadly, the engine was overheating while we were in the fast lane, so we took the precaution of switching off the car."
Stroll is again running Racing Point's new aero package in Russia and reckoned his underperformance relative to Perez in Russia was circumstantial rather linked to his car's different configuration.
"It’s frustrating because we’ve made it into Q3 consistently this year," he added.
"I’ve not quite found my rhythm here yet; I just need to put together the finer details and come back stronger tomorrow.
"It’s not easy to overtake here, but we have a quick race car. If we can get a good start and make some early progress, then it’s all to play for in terms of points."
Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer agreed that the 21-year-old will be a strong contender for points this afternoon.
"He deserved more from today, but he will be strong tomorrow," he said. "And at least he will get a free choice of tyres for the start of the race."