Felipe Massa blamed a loss of balance on his Ferrari for failing to do any better than fourth place in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway.

Never really in the fight for pole position, Massa was the first driver to attempt a fast lap on new tyres at the end of the qualifying shootout, but with the damp circuit improving slowly all the time, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and then Lewis Hamilton were able to undercut him.

Indeed, Massa was rather mystified as to why he was unable to translate the strong pace he showed in the knockout phases through to the shootout, the Brazilian settling for the fact that his car did not behave so well on fresh rubber.

"Qualifying produced a very close fight between us and our main rivals. In Q1 and Q2, I was very pleased with the handling of my car but something changed in terms of balance on new tyres and less fuel, given that it gave me a bit too much oversteer. A shame, because even at the start of Q3 I was going well, but in the end, with new tyres, I lost time with this oversteer."

A hugely important weekend for Massa as it looks likely he will slip out of the title battle, it remains to be seen whether he will shift his focus to Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen. It was something he was not willing to give away just yet.

"All the same, fourth place is not a bad position. There are four of us in the same two tenths of a second and all sorts of things could happen tomorrow."



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