Carlos Sainz suffered a miserable day in Yas Marina, finishing slowest of anyone in final practice and then missing the first cut during the twilight qualifying session for tomorrow's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
On Friday, Sainz suffered a hard crash early in FP2 which meant the team had to make extensive repairs overnight. But the Spaniard insisted this was not the reason for his struggles today.
Instead, he suggested that other drivers weren't playing fair and had developed a way of using 'dirty air' - turbulence thrown up by their cars - to hamper rivals running behind them, effectively impeding them without actually blocking.
"As drivers, we know that if you do a corner two seconds in front of another car - one second or two seconds in front - you're going to make him lose a tenth or two in that corner," he explained.
"As the weekends have gone on, I see people relaxing a bit on that," he complained. "When it's tight in Q1 and Q2 I see people giving a bit of dirty air on purpose in some corners, to maybe make the others lose some time in corners.
"We don't consider it to be impeding because it's not like you need to lift," he acknowledged. ""But you know you're giving him dirty air and you're giving him a bad run in that corner.
"By going out last [in Q1] I made basically all sectors one and two very close to the cars in front, and I found myself losing tenths and tenths per corner.
"I think everyone's doing it, it's just that if you put yourself in a bad track position, you're going to suffer from that more," he added. "It's tricky."
Sainz said that there had been no problem with the car after its overnight rebuild and that his confidence hadn't taken a knock after hitting a bump and spinning in turn 3 yesterday.
"[The track] felt better, a lot better," he confirmed. "There was basically almost no bump today. It was easy flat.
"It hasn't even been a corner all these years, turn 3. But for some reason, yesterday I bottomed out and the car gave me a huge snap," he said. "It didn't make me lose any confidence or anything. Nothing to worry about on that front.
"It's just that for some reason this weekend, on the soft tyre especially it's been difficult to put laps together," he admitted. "We need perfect laps in Q1 and Q2 and we clearly didn't get them."
In the end, Sainz missed the cut in Q1 by 0.138s and will face a big challenge on Sunday to battle his way back into the points and make a contribution to Ferrari's bid to beat Mercedes to P2 in the constructors' standings.
"I'm hoping it will be better," he said. "I struggled on the soft tyre, but the long runs haven't looked too bad.
"So we just know what we need to do tomorrow, which is a good recovery," he added. "[Let's] if we can get back in the points, and score some points."