Rosberg believes he was not aggressive enough in the way he approached warming up the tyres, leading to him lapping half-a-second off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Q2.
"We underestimated how bad it was going to be in qualifying," said Rosberg.
"Everybody in my group, as a team, we all just underestimated and were very slow because we did not work the tyres hard enough and they were not working properly.
"You just drop off the curve, it doesn't go anywhere and it's a complete mess to drive."
Rosberg is still confident for the race, stressing that the mistake in qualifying was partly down to focusing on race set-up.
While he accepts that the team could have done things in a different way to improve his qualifying pace, this would have compromised his chances for Sunday.
"Now we have the experience about the tyres, there are various things that could have been done to make the car faster today," he added. "But then it would be worse tomorrow, that is the compromise."
Rosberg is still hopeful he can make progress in the race, although he expects to rely on making up positions on-track and others hitting tyre problems given many drivers are set to make only one stop.
"I'll give everything to try and get a good start to make up positions," he said.
"Many people are going to be trying for the one stop, so it can be a bit of a train situation through the race.
"It's going to be tough because you can't really play around with the strategy.
"It's about the start, having good race pace and hoping that some people wear their tyres too much."
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