Mikko Hirvonen admitted he 'couldn't have got it any more wrong' after losing the tactical battle with Sebastien Loeb on the final stage of day one in Sardinia.
Hirvonen had started the stage behind Loeb, with Ford keen to ensure those positions remained unchanged for day two to give the Finn a better position on the road.
However, on the final stage, Loeb came to a halt to drop time and Hirvonen didn't slow enough to prevent the Citroen man from dropping behind him to third.
Running behind Loeb into the stage, Hirvonen was informed of Loeb's time by the Ford team, but didn't realise until it was too late that he hadn't slowed enough to prevent himself getting ahead.
"I seriously messed up - I couldn't have got it any more wrong," he said. "This is a completely my fault - I can't believe Sebastien slowed so much. I made a massive mistake.
"We had the information early enough but I couldn't believe how much time Seb had lost before it was too late. I went as slowly as I could but it just wasn't enough. I didn't realise until I was between the yellow and red boards that he had actually stopped and that I should have done the same - but if I have stopped there I would have been excluded."
However, having had time to reflect on the afternoon's final stage, Hirvonen insisted he wasn't giving up and would attack to keep Loeb behind, while team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala will start the second day with a near 40 second lead out front.
"Road position today hasn't made as much of a difference as thought it could, and I hope it is the same tomorrow," Hirvonen conceded. "We will take some risks to drive flat out. Jari-Matti has a strong lead and the opportunity is there for one of us to win this rally."