Sebastian Vettel could offer no excuses for a qualifying display that left him hurting more than a rare hit to his wallet.
On a disappointing day for the reigning double world champion, for only the third time in the last 65 races Vettel failed to qualify for the top-10 shoot-out.
Vettel could only manage 11th for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, although a five-place penalty for Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber for a gearbox change means he will start 10th.
To add to the 24-year-old's frustration, five minutes before qualifying began he was fined €10,000 for an illegal practice start in the pits during final practice.
Assessing his poor qualifying a year after winning this race from pole, Vettel said: "Nothing went wrong.
"I didn't make a mistake and there was no real problem with the car, so obviously this hurts.
"Overall I was pretty happy with the lap I had, but the time didn't come, and now we'll have to see what we can do tomorrow."
"On this track it's definitely possible to overtake, so we're in a good position from that perspective, better than at other circuits.
"First of all the nature of the track works in your favour, that you are not entirely relying on the DRS zone to overtake. You can overtake in other places.
"It was comfortable here last year to overtake, and generally our race pace is better than in qualifying, so we should be fine."
To aid Vettel's cause further, the top nine ahead of him are a mixed-up bunch, with Jenson Button on pole followed by Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado in his Williams.
As for his title rivals, Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen starts fourth, championship leader Fernando Alonso is sixth in his Ferrari, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton seventh.
"It's a pretty surprising grid," said Vettel.
"I was 11th in Q2 with Pastor 10th, only one hundredth (of a second) quicker than me. Then he went nine tenths quicker in Q3.
"For me I don't think it would have been possible to go nine tenths quicker with a new set of tyres.
"But despite my position the objective is still to win. Anything is possible."
As to his fine dished out by the stewards, Vettel held his hands up, adding: "My mistake.
"We practised a pit stop, you're not supposed to leave your box, and I left the box. I was probably trying to practice a bit too hard."
In mitigation, the stewards took into account the fact the team and driver immediately realised their error, and the lollipop man who released Vettel was performing his role for first time.