The Sauber drivers said they simply could not get their tyres to work as they struggled in Montreal qualifying, and admitted they had not expected the results to be quite so bad.
Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi will share row nine tomorrow, with the latter only just managing to beat Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus.
"We are having a hard weekend here," Kobayashi admitted. "Our overall performance is not where we were in Turkey.
"I had big problems with warming up the tyres. I just didn't get them to work and this made it impossible to exploit any of the car's potential. The fact I had traffic on my last lap didn't help either.
"I knew today's qualifying would be difficult, but still didn't expect it to be that bad."
De la Rosa reckons the switch to low downforce for Montreal has hampered Sauber.
"We ran the car for the first time on a significantly lower downforce level and it doesn't really suit us," he said. "We are sliding all over the place, and that's why the tyres don't work. There is no grip at all and on top of that I had difficulties heating up the brakes.
"We have to see what we can do in tomorrow's race in terms of tyre strategy, and be prepared to benefit from possible safety car situations."