Fernando Alonso wasn't sugar-coating the situation in Spa on Saturday after he slumped to ninth place on the grid for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, while his rival for the 2013 world champion Sebastian Vettel will start from second place on the front row of the grid.

Gifting Vettel the chance to pull even further away from him in the points standings had definitely not been in the plan, and Alonso admitted that qualifying had gone awry for the team in part thanks to the wildly fluctuating weather conditions catching them out.

""When you end up ninth and tenth, clearly something has gone wrong," he said afterwards. Only analysing the data will be able to tell you what exactly, especially as the car was more competitive than in recent races - that's partly down to the updates introduced here, which we had been working on since mid-July, when it was clear we had problems.

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"Bad luck definitely played its part [in Spa], because if the cloud that appeared in Q3 had not moved just before the end of the session, then maybe those who were last at that time would not have improved," he pointed out. But he couldn't blame the outcome of qualifying on unfortunate timing alone.

"In the final part, I spun on my first lap, a mistake which definitely cost me, even if by my next lap at the same point, at Turn 14, I had already made up three seconds," he said.

Alonso added that he still felt "reasonably confident for the race" as the variable weather conditions meant anything can happen.

"It's not a given that one finishes where one starts. Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry," he said. "We saw that in Q2 and in the mixed conditions in Q1. Only the rain is the big question mark, because so far this weekend, we have never run on a track that is wet for its entire length."

Despite finishing only one position behind his team mate, Felipe Massa was still unhappy with the outcome of qualifying.

"I am very disappointed with the result of this qualifying, even if I am well aware how difficult it is to make the right decision at the right time when the weather is very changeable," he said. "On my first run in Q3, I went out on the mediums and, at the moment it began to rain, I had two options: return to the pits to refuel and fit a new set of intermediates, or try and only change tyres.

"I went for the second of these choices, hoping to benefit from the track being at its best, knowing I would only have one lap left to try and do a good time. Unfortunately, this choice did not pay off, because just then the rain eased off and the other cars encountered better track conditions at the end of the session.

"A real shame, as the car's been very competitive all weekend," he said. "Definitely today, we were a bit out of luck."

Ferrari's director of engineering Pat Fry said that the grid positions weren't a fair reward for Alonso and Massa's efforts in qualifying on Saturday.

"It leaves a great sense of regret, especially due to the fact that today, everything was in place for us to aim for a front row slot," he said. "Yesterday's and today's practice produced encouraging signs; the car was quick in all conditions and on all the compounds we used, proving to be very competitive.

"Now however, we must only turn the page and get ready to tackle a long and demanding race, when once again the weather will play a big part".