Felipe Massa has urged his Ferrari team to be on their toes at future rounds of the Formula One world championship after seeing a mistake in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix cost him valuable points.
Although the Brazilian left Sepang at the head of the world championship standings, he felt that he could have built a bigger advantage than the two-point margin he currently enjoys had it not been for an error that saw him line up only 21st on the grid. Along with team-mate Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - and to some extent, reigning world champion Jenson Button, who crashed out of the first session and took no further part in qualifying - Massa was among the big name casualties in Malaysia, all of whom had to give best to Red Bull twins Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber on race day.
"There is no point avoiding the subject - our race was pretty much over by the end of the first part of qualifying on Saturday afternoon," the Brazilian admitted on Ferrari's official website, "In simple language, we made a big mistake, me and the team together. It was wrong to trust too much in the weather forecast, thinking it was going to get drier, especially as it was already raining prior to the start of the session.
"We ended up on track at the wrong time and failed to get out of Q1 and it is no consolation that we were not the only team to make that mistake. It was a stupid strategic mistake really, and we must learn from what happened and try not to do it again because, in such a closely contested championship, these are the sort of incidents that could win or lose the title come the end of the year."
Massa and Alonso found themselves duelling with the McLaren drivers as they fought their way through the pack and up the order, with Hamilton eventually getting the best result, in sixth, with Massa and Button directly behind. Alonso had also been in the fight for minor points before his engine blew.
"When you line up on the grid and see around 20 cars in front of you, you know you are going to have a tough afternoon," Massa pointed out, "But, with the McLaren guys also having made a mess of qualifying, it meant there were four quick cars together pretty much at the back of the field. I am sure we managed to keep the crowd entertained between us because, when you start from the back and are fighting all the way with a duel almost every lap, the race went by very quickly. You can almost not believe it when you see the chequered flag and realise the race is over.
"When you start from the front of the grid, the race gives the impression of being much longer in your mind. Although I enjoyed the fighting on track in Sepang, I would definitely have preferred it if the race had seemed to be a long one!"
Underlining his frustration, Massa's pace at times appeared a match for the Red Bulls, which took a comfortable 1-2 result, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in third place.
"Even after a difficult weekend like Malaysia, I always try to look on the positive side and, although Friday and Saturday free practice showed that the F10 was not the quickest car on the track, in the race, when I was able to run alone and in clean air, the pace was reasonable compared to the Red Bull, which was the winning car," the Brazilian reflected.