Lando Norris says a combination of poor timing and a failure to produce a flawless lap left him stranded in Q2 on Saturday evening in Sakhir.
The McLaren driver was forced to abort his first effort in the second segment of qualifying due to traffic while he just didn't get on top of his second lap, leaving the Briton 15th overall on Sunday's grid.
"Q1 run one was alright, one mistake on it but it was still a decent lap," Norris said.
"But Q2 we went out too early, basically, which meant I had to do a very slow out-lap to make sure I didn't catch the traffic at the end or halfway around my lap.
"That meant the tyres were a little bit on the colder side, and not ideal for Turn 1. And when there's only four corners, and the tyres are not in for Turn 1, then you only have three corners to try to make up time and that's not really possible, so I had to abort.
"Then on my second lap, I had no traffic but quite a few people around me in Turn 1 again, which made me lose quite a bit of time. And then just a combination of not driving the perfect lap for the rest of it.
"So, yeah, just not a clean Q2 really. A bit of a mistake from our side as a team in knowing when to go out and start our run, but also my opportunity to put a lap in.
"I just didn't do the perfect job. So those two things put together made me end up where I was."
Carlos Sainz fared better than his teammate in the Saturday evening session, qualifying P8. But the sum of both driver's results still leaves the McLaren team with its work cut out on Sunday to retain its edge over Racing Point and Renault in F1's fierce battle for third in the Constructors' standings.
Still, Sainz noted the progress achieved between free practice and qualifying.
"It's a good day for us because after FP3 we were looking at 12th and 13th, and we're not so bad," said the Spaniard.
"Maybe tomorrow we'll have to look more in the mirror than forward for once, but it's what we have and we'll try to fight for it."