South Korea: Disappointed and surprised, Jenson Button saw his chances of retaining the Formula One title recede further into the distance in South Korea on Saturday.
The Briton, already 31 points behind Red Bull`s Australian Mark Webber with three races remaining including Sunday`s, qualified seventh on the starting grid with all four of his title rivals ahead of him.
Championship leader Webber will line up on the front row, with team mate Sebastian Vettel on pole.
Button`s McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton, fourth overall and 28 points behind Webber, qualified fourth with Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso third.
"We have to win the next three races," Button told reporters. "It`s not over yet but we haven`t made it easy on ourselves.
"It`s made a lot more difficult with the Red Bulls on the front row, which is surprising really. They`re the people we`re trying to take points off, and it`s not possible at the moment.
"I`m disappointed and surprised to be that far down; Lewis was a lot quicker, but still only fourth. There`s going to be a lot of head scratching going on."
The 30-year-old, whose team have brought a range of improvements to Korea, said it had been a tough afternoon.
"I was pretty happy yesterday and this morning but in qualifying, with the cooler conditions, I struggled. Really struggled with front locking," he said.
"I was surprised I was even seventh."
Looking on the positive side, Button will start on the cleaner side of the grid -- a considerable bonus at a dusty and slippery circuit that has not previously been raced on.
The McLaren should also be able to take advantage of the long straights that play to the car`s strengths and Button said he could also afford to take more risks with very little to lose.
"With a good start on the clean side we should be able to pick up some places and I think the first lap of the race is going to be very exciting to be a part of...we can do a lot on lap one," he argued.
"And there`s a chance of some showers tomorrow which makes it even more interesting."