It was no surprise to anyone at Ferrari that they had nothing in reserve with which to challenge McLaren and Red Bull for the front two rows in the F1 Grand Prix of Korea.

"The position reflects our current situation: McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us so it just leaves us to fight between ourselves for fifth and sixth places, admitted Fernando Alonso.

"Once again this qualifying result is more or less what we could have expected, agreed Ferrari chassis technical director Pat Fry. "Getting a place on the front two rows depends more on others making mistakes than on our actual technical potential and today nothing differed from that."

"We definitely cannot be surprised at the outcome," commented team principal Stefano Domenicali. "However, that does not mean we are resigned to it, quite the contrary in fact ... Only eight days ago we were in an almost identical situation and then, 24 hours later we came very close to winning," he finished, adding: "Let's wait and see how things go tomorrow."

Alonso himself had to settle for sixth place after getting pipped by his team mate Felipe Massa.

"Today, we were losing too much time in the first sector, where we lacked top speed," Alonso said. "On my last run, I immediately lost a few tenths at the first corner and after that, I could not make up the time, so I decided not to complete the lap."

That has a major knock-on effect for Alonso on Sunday. "Unfortunately, I start from the dirty side of the grid, which should be a major disadvantage here, so I hope I don't lose a place to Rosberg. We will have to keep an eye on what happens ahead of us and exploit the strategy in our favour."

"I am happy with my performance today," said Massa for his part. "I think I got a good lap on my final run, after the first one in Q3, when I used the same set of Supersofts I had already run in Q2. My impression is that we are now also improving our Saturday performance, but there are still four cars in front of us and so the grid position stays more or less the same."

Both drivers were wondering about tyre degradation during the race, having lost out on long run data because of the wet conditions on Friday.

"When tyre degradation is very high, usually we are in good shape," said an optimistic Alonso. "But here the situation is not very clear, as the behaviour of the Supersofts over a long run and on full tanks is still an unknown quantity."

Massa agreed: "Going into this Grand Prix there was a lot of concern about tyre degradation but, at least from what we have seen today, it seems to be less severe than expected."

"Tomorrow there will be one more unknown factor than usual, because we were not able to do the usual Friday job of evaluating tyre degradation with a high fuel load," added Fry. "However, from what we could see this morning, the situation seems better than expected."

For his part, Felipe Massa was certainly hoping for a good showing in Korea. "It was actually here, a year ago, that I stood on the podium for the last time: maybe tonight I'll watch the race again!" he pointed out.