Romain Grosjean says he was rooting for Nico Hulkenberg to deny him a Q3 spot in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Haas driver had set the eighth fastest time in Q2 and looked set to move forward to Q3 until he was demoted to ninth place by Force India driver Hulkenberg.
Starting from ninth, Grosjean will be able to choose tyres with which he will start the race.
The Frenchman admitted he was cheering for Hulkenberg to knock him down.
"I think P9 is the best position we could be right now," said Grosjean. "We could have had a go and try again to go into Q3 but there was no point, and I just sat there and I was actually hoping that someone would overtake me to move to P9.
"It's a bit strange but it's the way it is with the new tyres.
"The higher you are on the grid, the better, but in between seventh and 12th that's probably the best place to be.
"I saw [Hulkenberg] was late in sector 1 and I was going 'come on, come on' and then when sector 2 was good I was actually happy.
"It's a bit of shame because we would like to go out and fight for the best result, but you have a choice for a free tyre so that's what you want."
Grosjean said he was surprised to qualify so high up, but warned there is still more potential to unlock in the American squad's car.
"That was a good qualy. We didn't think we would be so high up. Of course the target is to go into Q2 to make an improvement from the first race and not f*** up again the new format," said the Frenchman, who had qualified in 19th in Australia.
"We have unlocked some potential on the car but there is more to come in the next few races."
Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov