Felipe Massa admitted that he was far from content at the end of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, after coming up almost six tenths of a second adrift of Formula 1 World Championship rival Lewis Hamilton when the pressure was on.
Indeed, though Hamilton entered the weekend under-fire and under a cloud following his Japanese Grand Prix catastrophe just six days ago, it is Massa who has thus far appeared to be the more susceptible, rarely able to match the McLaren-Mercedes star and – a brief threat in Q2 apart – ultimately winding up more than half a second adrift and just third on the grid in the final reckoning.
“I can't deny I'm a bit disappointed with this qualifying,” reflected the Brazilian, after also having had to play second fiddle to resurgent Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen when it counted. “Starting from the front is always important even if the race is very long, but I will do my utmost to get a great result.
“Today it was hard to find the right balance for the car, especially in Q3. Tomorrow things could change as the car has shown it is good over a long run.
“We will have to attack to make up positions, and we believe we have a good race strategy. Sure, our competitors went well and will be very competitive; let's hope we are more competitive than they are!”
Those sentiments were echoed by the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali, who remained confident of better pace come race day, but equally mindful of the fact that McLaren are – as was proved from as early as Friday's opening practice session – very much 'on the ball'.
“All-in-all, this is a reasonable result,” the Italian underlined. “With both drivers on the front two rows, we have every chance of making the most of our situation in tomorrow's race. Of course, in front of us we have a competitor who has shown himself to be very strong all weekend.
“Tomorrow's race will be a very long one and there is also some doubt about the weather. At the risk of repeating myself, the crucial elements in getting the right result here will be the usual ones – first and foremost reliability, then tyre performance, the work of the team and drivers, strategy and car performance. If all these elements come through at their best, then we can do it.”