The Mercedes GP driver was slowest of all in the final 10-minute stage and will start from 10th place, five places behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.
“I couldn’t get my lap together in Q3,” the seven-time World Champion said after qualifying. “After the second session which was pretty good, I wasn’t able to maximise my performance and I am obviously unhappy about my grid position.”
The German went on to add that it was perhaps a little bit of overdriving on his part that contributed to the final result.
“I made a small mistake on my first quick lap so I slowed down to give the tyres the possibility to work again for the second fast lap. But there wasn’t much more to come and so I pushed harder and therefore made some mistakes.”
“Now I will have to work hard for the race tomorrow which will be difficult from where I am starting as overtaking here is not really possible. I have to do a good start and see how far I can get. I will certainly try to make the most out of it,” he added.
Countering this, Rosberg was clearly pleased with fifth place, after a difficult fortnight in which he has been less than complimentary about his results and the backwards step the team seems to have taken in developing the W01 chassis.
“I’m really pleased with fifth place today and it shows good progress after being so far back in Valencia at the last race,” he said.
“This is a positive step and important for us to know that we really understood what the problems were and how efficiently we have been able to turn the situation around.
“Everyone at the factory has worked really hard and this gives us a great chance for the race tomorrow at one of our home circuits.
“My lap was good today and it’s nice to be fighting back up there towards the front again. I’m looking forward to the race and if I get a good start, then we have every reason to expect a strong result,” he concluded.