Ferrari was left with 'a bitter taste in the mouth' at the end of qualifying for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, after 'false assumptions' as to the strength of the opposition came back to bite the Scuderia in Sepang - and left Felipe Massa stranded down in 16th position on the starting grid.

Heading out early in Q1 as a precaution in case the approaching thunderstorm clouds turned into rain, after putting in 'banker' laps on the softer Bridgestone rubber, both Massa and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen then returned to their pit box to save their tyres for the remainder of the session, as rivals conversely embarked upon further runs as the track conditions improved and the times consequently tumbled. It would turn out to be a fatal tactical error.

As the seconds ticked down to the end of Q1, both of the scarlet machines were bumped increasingly down the order, and whilst Raikkonen re-took to the circuit and put in a lap good enough for 14th in the final reckoning - narrowly sufficient to see him through to Q2 - Massa did not go out again, and the Brazilian would pay a heavy price. That has left the 2008 world championship runner-up to begin the race from the eighth row...around a track where for the last two years he had taken pole.

"I am very disappointed," the 27-year-old reflected. "If I had ended up 16th because of a lack of performance, then I could have accepted the result, but like this it hurts even more. The track improved so much with each passing lap, and my first run was not perfect and nor was it enough. We did not react in time and lost the chance to have another go.

"No one person is to blame - we are a team and we lose or win all together. We have to change our approach and tackle qualifying in a different way to the past. There is no room for error and we have to give it our all, right from the first session.

"Nevertheless, I am very motivated. It won't be the first time I will have to tackle a race starting way down the order, and I know I can count on having strong pace. We will have to try and exploit every opportunity to make up places."

There was disappointment, too, for Raikkonen, who scraped through to both Q2 and Q3 but could ultimately do no better than ninth - seventh following the respective penalties meted out to Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello. The Finn was left lamenting the F60's shortfall in grip compared to its competitors.

"Honestly, the main problem is that, at the moment, we are not quick enough to fight for the top places," the former Formula 1 World Champion rued. "The car is not lacking in any particular area, but we do not have enough grip to be as quick as those who finished ahead of us today.

"Tomorrow's race will be very tough. We will try to make the most of the start. In Australia, it was very good but there was nowhere to go, whereas here, the straight is long and the track is wide. Furthermore, as we saw yesterday, our pace is competitive.

"We have to improve our performance, but obviously it is important to have the regulations clarified as quickly as possible, to understand in which direction to go. Both types of tyres work well over a distance and we will try and exploit that."

Indeed, both drivers will need to exploit their KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) power boosts to the maximum in Sunday's race if they are to gain ground, and with the weather remaining a significant unknown as heavy showers continue to menace the region, unpredictabilities are rife.

"This result is definitely not up to our expectations," summarised the Maranello-based outfit's team principal Stefano Domenicali, "even if we knew it would be a difficult qualifying. However, the aspect that really leaves a bitter taste in the mouth is the way in which we tackled the first part of the session. We made a false assumption that cost us dear with Felipe, who was immediately out, failing to make the first cut.

"Tomorrow, it will be a long and difficult race, with a question mark over the weather which can change really quickly. We will have to make the most of our race pace and the start; in Australia, we saw that anything can happen and we will have to be ready to pounce on every opportunity, with the obvious proviso that we cannot make any more mistakes."

"We opted to do just one run on the new soft tyres in Q1 in order to save a set for the following sessions," added technical director Luca Baldisserri, "and to do that run right at the start of qualifying as we were worried about the threat of rain. Then we did not react quickly enough in recognising that the track was improving much more than we had expected, and we watched our two drivers slide further and further down the order, to such an extent that Felipe didn't make it to Q2.

"Now we have to concentrate on the race. We know our potential over a distance is better than that shown over the first lap, and tomorrow we will have to make the most of that."


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