Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali took aim at the growing practice among teams to prioritise tyre management above qualifying performance, after a bizarre Saturday session in Japan at Suzuka.
Only six of the ten cars set flying laps in the final round of qualifying, and Q2 was similarly afflicted by teams opting to make only a single qualifying run during the time allowed, as teams up and down the pit lane grew concerned about the tyre wear and blistering likely in Sunday's race.
"Once again today, as has happened before during this season, we have seen cars – no less than four in Q3 – give up on doing a flying lap," he pointed out. "I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future. I don't think it's such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand - who I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for F1 - and for those who are watching on television."
However, Domenicali conceded that from a technical and team point of view, putting tyre management first was the correct call. "Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view," he added.
Fourth and fifth place was about where Domenicali expected to be, and he hopes that it will give them a good platform to mount a challenge for podium finishes come the race. The only surprise is that Felipe Massa finished the fastest of the two drivers.
"It was a difficult qualifying session but at least we managed to keep one of the four best cars behind us," said Massa. "It's never easy here to put together the perfect lap and my last run was very good, even if I lost a little bit in the final sector."
He was focussing on the start of the race - which will see him line-up alongside Lewis Hamilton, just two weeks after the two clashed on- and off-track at Singapore. "Hamilton alongside me on the grid? It makes no difference to me if it's him or anyone else," he insisted.
"I am not very surprised by this result," said Fernando Alonso who starts from fifth place in the race and who didn't think he could have improved his time any more than he did. "I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year and at least it means I start from the clean side of the track.
"Tomorrow I expect significant tyre degradation to be a key feature of the race, with the possibility of several pit stops, which means strategy will play a very important role."
Like Massa, Alonso was also focussing on the start of the race as the critical moment: "Both myself and Felipe will try and put pressure on those closest to us and then, if we happen to make up some places we will try and have our say," he said.