Nico Rosberg said he was to blame for failing to qualify on the front row of the grid alongside Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German finished 0.558s adrift of Hamilton, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel taking second, and admitted he got his strategy wrong regarding tyres.
Rosberg took it easy on his lap in Q2, to save extra life in the set tyres that will be used to start the race, but he then struggled to find a rhythm in Q3.
"Strategy wise I got it wrong," admitted Rosberg. "I was thinking too much about the race and I under-estimated Sebastian's speed.
"I took it easy in Q2 to save the race tyres, so I lacked the rhythm for Q3.
"That's where I went wrong today. Being third is not ideal."
Rosberg added that the decision to run a used set of option tyres for the first run in Q3 as well as the lack of pace caught him by surprise.
"I didn't expect to go on used in the first part of Q3," he said.
"I thought we would go two new soft sets of tyres and I didn't expect the used tyre to be so slow.
"The used tyre was really, really poor. I thought it would be good, especially as I took it easy on that used tyre in Q1 as well.
"But it was really poor so that meant I only had a shot at the end and it was just poor management, especially as Sebastian is in front, otherwise it would have been OK."
When asked to clarify whether it was poor management on his part or the team's Rosberg said: "My side. We're together but I'm responsible."
Hamilton, who like his team-mate Rosberg saved an extra set of soft tyres for the race, said he was delighted to score his first pole position in Bahrain at his seventh attempt.
"I feel great, very happy," said the reigning world champion. "That was the target, to try to master this track.
"That's how it's gone this weekend. The laps were pretty good, you can always improve, but I'm grateful to have this beast underneath me."
Vettel, meanwhile, was pleased to have split the Mercedes for the first time in dry conditions this season.
"Very happy with second today," said the German. "It was a tough session.
"I didn't find the rhythm to begin with but at the end it was getting better and I could push.
"I'm very happy with the front row - in the race we are maybe a bit closer so let's see what happens.
"We are trying to push in all areas but for now we are happy with where we are.
"It's the first time we have been able to split the two Mercedes in dry conditions so I'm very happy."