Like many others up and down the F1 pit lane at Sepang, McLaren watched much of the Malaysian Grand Prix in a state of astonished disbelief. But unlike the Ferrari and Sauber garages, there was little joy or excitement - just the slowly sinking feeling of an opportunity slipping away between their fingers.

"Today certainly wasn't the day I was expecting," agreed team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "It's frustrating for us, the race didn't really go our way."

Jenson Button had the worst of it, making contact with HRT's Narain Karthikeyan soon after the race resumed from the 50 minute red flag which impacted the entire rest of his afternoon.

"For Jenson, it was simply a bad day in the office," shrugged Whitmarsh. "Losing a front wing in tricky conditions was always going to make it a hard afternoon for him."

"A lot of my issues were brought on when I wiped my front wing off at the start," agreed Button, who quickly admitted that the collision had been down to him. "I locked up the rears, couldn't slow the car down and hit Karthikeyan, which was a bit frustrating. So I had to pit for a new nose, and that was pretty much it.

"Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong in the race did go wrong," he added. "That's just one of those things."

Lewis Hamilton finished in a perfectly respectable third place; even though the British ace would have been hoping for so much more given the way he'd won pole position, he professed to be being reasonably pleased with the outcome in the circumstances.

"It was pretty eventful race: it was difficult trying to judge the best time to change from extreme wets to intermediates, and we were probably a little late on that," said Hamilton. "We lost some time in the pitstops and I was pushed out of the fight somewhat ... but that's how it goes sometimes."

Compared to some race weekends where he's been accused of looking glum even after impressive finishes, Hamilton was looking and sounding surprisingly happy after the day's racing.

"This was a tough but fascinating race ... It's been a positive weekend and I'm not too frustrated," he said. "My aim for this season was always to be consistent - I did it in 2007 so I'm trying to repeat that!"

The McLaren team as a whole were keen to look on the bright side of the race outcome, for the sport as a whole if not quite so much for themselves this time around.

"Today's result is great for the sport of F1," insisted Whitmarsh. "This was a terrific race for Ferrari and a great result for Sauber, congratulations to both teams."

"They both drove great races and did a fantastic job," agreed Hamilton. "For me, the next races will be all about converting our really strong qualifying pace into equally strong race pace. That's what I'll be working in the few weeks ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix."

"Chin up: we'll move forwards and hopefully have a much better weekend in China!" insisted Button. "The amazing thing is that I'm still third in the championship after not scoring any points!"