Sebastian Vettel says the upgrade package added to his Aston Martin AMR21 is "doing what it's supposed to do" despite the German and teammate Lance Stroll both failing to reach Q3 in qualifying in Barcelona.
Vettel clocked in P13 at the end of the Saturday afternoon session while Stroll just missed out on a spot in Q3, concluding his day P11.
The field's fiercely tight spread left no margin for the slightest error, and Vettel reckoned his flyer in Q2 just wasn't the perfect lap.
"My final lap in Q2 was not entirely clean and, when the grid is so tight, those small things can make a real difference," he said.
"I think we had a good chance of reaching Q3 today, but we just found ourselves at the wrong end of the midfield group."
Asked if Aston's aero updates had delivered gains, Vettel said: "It’s doing what it’s supposed to do, so it’s working.
"As we’ve seen, it’s very close and every weekend is a bit different. Unfortunately we weren’t quite there this weekend to step into Q3 but let’s see what we can get tomorrow.
"Because so many teams have similar pace, it will not be an easy race, but we will hang in there, push hard, and see what we can do.
"You never know what can happen in a long race and, if we can look after the tyres and use our race pace, we can race for some points."
Stroll was frustrated to miss out on the qualifying shootout by such a small margin, but noted that the shortfall will at least entitle him to a "flexible" tyre choice for the race.
"It is a shame to have missed out on Q3 by such a tiny margin – just a few thousandths of a second," he said.
"The positive is that by starting in P11, we have the flexibility to choose our start tyre and that could be crucial because I think tyre wear is going to be a very important factor in the race.
"It is not easy to overtake here, but if we can have a good start and gain places on the long run into Turn One, we can give ourselves a good platform for points on Sunday."