We're doing our best - Vettel
Sebastian Vettel feels he and Red Bull have nothing to be ashamed of despite so far failing to live up to their world champion status.
For the first time in 42 races, going back to the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel failed to make it out of Q2 and into the top-10 shoot-out in qualifying for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
Instead, the 24-year-old reigning double world champion missed out by 0.049secs to Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari that has been lacking in pace, despite the fact the Spaniard leads the way in the standings.
For a man who won 11 races and was on pole a record-breaking 15 times last year, you would have thought the transition from front-runner to midfield would mentally be tough.
Vettel insists that is not the case, though, saying: "If I said now I had to try harder then I would be admitting over the last few years I had not tried hard enough, which was not the case.
"You always try to do your best, as we are now. Being completely honest, we can look at ourselves and be happy with the work that we have done.
"I got everything out of the car that there was today. I think we did a good job in qualifying.
"The result wasn't good enough, so we need to improve and work on that, but it's not as if we've been lazy and not cared, and that is why we've had a bad result."
In Q2, as Vettel slipped out, team-mate Mark Webber led the way, albeit in a closely-contested affair in which the top 11 were only separated by just 0.331secs.
Vettel can pinpoint no significant reason as to his dip, other than the car is simply not quick enough.
"I think doing the same lap time three times in qualifying showed that was more or less it," he added.
"It was not as if there was a tenth (of a second) or another couple of tenths on the table, so I don't think we missed out.
"For now there is nothing wrong. We know we are not where we want to be, not there in terms of competitiveness.
"So we need to work and improve the car, and that's the only way to come back."