Max Verstappen went into Saturday's qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the hot favourite to claim pole position, despite an accident during final practice early in the day.
But a frantic session which saw four red flag stoppages made it tough for the Red Bull driver to get the lap he needed to claim pole, opening the door for Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to take the top spot alongside Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
It leaves Verstappen starting tomorrow's race from third place on the grid, with everyone in the top ten starting on the same soft compound. But it's not as good as the Dutch driver had been hoping for.
"Just a stupid qualifying to be honest," Verstappen declared when talking to the media in parc ferme afterwards. "It's just unfortunate, but it is a street circuit so these things can happen.
“Of course I’m not that happy as I was very confident we could fight for pole here, as we have felt good throughout the weekend.
"But qualifying was pretty scrappy with all the red flags. The one at the end of Q3 stopped us all improving.
"Of course I would have liked to start a bit further ahead," he admitted. "But anyway it is what it is, still P3.
"I think [it's a] good recovery from [the accident in] FP3 of course," he added. "Our car is strong, so I just hope that tomorrow in the race, we can look after our tyres and score good points.
"[There is still] a lot to play for. As you could see in qualifying, a lot of things are happening. So maybe in the race these things can happen again.
"We have a good car," he insisted. "Let's hope for just a clean start and we'll see from there.
"With three different teams at the front it should be a pretty interesting race strategy-wise as well, and it is also about keeping your tyres alive. We are still up there so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner shared his driver's feelings about not getting that final chance to improve his Q3 time.
“It was frustrating not to get that last run in Q3 as Max was improving and in with the chance of a tow at the end of the lap," he said. "But that’s life and it was the same for everyone.
"We’re still in good shape," Horner added. "Our car has been quick here this weekend and overtaking is possible at this track so it should make for an exciting Grand Prix and strategy will be key.
"It’s still all to play for!"