Felipe Massa believes he could have matched Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso's performance in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix had it not been for the need to save tyres for the race.
Instead of lining up alongside fifth-placed Alonso, the Brazilian will start a race he has won three times in the past from the outside of row five, after failing to set a time in the final phase of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Massa's problems began in the first 20-minute phase when, having set his first marker on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds, found himself sliding towards the drop zone that would have left him in the bottom seven. Deciding that his F150 Italia worked better on the softer tyre, the Brazilian returned to the track and saved his weekend by vaulting to the top of the timesheet. However, the decision to switch compounds would have consequences later on when, with Ferrari's pit-wall personnel seeing that his Q3 lap was not going to be quick enough, Massa was told to come in and save the tyres for the race.
“It was not a good qualifying for me," Massa admitted, "In Q1, with the hards, I did not get a great lap and, so as not to take any risks, we decided to also use the softs, so I only had one new set available for the final part of qualifying. I then didn't manage to get a clean lap in Q3 after I made a significant mistake at turn nine and ended up going off line. We therefore decided it was better to pit and save that set of tyres for the start [of the race].
"It's a shame, as I could have been on the third row, along with my team-mate, but now we will see what we can do in the race tomorrow. Usually our pace is better than in qualifying, but it will not be easy to do well, given that I'm starting from tenth. We will see what the tyre degradation will be like, maybe it will be a bit higher than what we saw in China."
Massa's day had already started badly, when the team decided to change the engine in his Ferrari between practice and qualifying.
"This morning, in FP3, the engineers saw an engine parameter that they were not sure about and so it was decided to change it at the end of the session," he confirmed, "I went back to the engine I had already used in Malaysia and China which, according to the schedule, is still meant to do three races.”