After Felipe Massa was left at the back of the starting grid in Australia twelve months ago due to gearbox woes, Ferrari suffered the agony of history repeating itself in the opening qualifying session of the 2008 Formula 1 campaign Down Under - only this time it was reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen who fell victim to the Scuderia's Melbourne curse.

After comfortably making it through Q1 in sixth place, the pre-season title favourite subsequently encountered a failure on the electronic fuel pump in Q2, stranding the Finn's Ferrari out on-track mere metres from the pit-lane entrance and necessitating help from the track marshals in returning the car to the garage. Worst of all, the drama left Raikkonen all the way down in 15th position on the starting grid, forced to watch helplessly as his principal championship rival Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position.

"Clearly I am disappointed," the crestfallen 28-year-old admitted afterwards. "A few corners from the end of my in-lap, I had a problem with the electronic fuel pump which forced me to stop near the pit-lane. It was impossible for me to get back to the garage to try and fix the problem.

"These things happen, but it's definitely not the best way to start the season. Now we must try to do our best to pick up some points tomorrow, because it is important to score something in every race."

Team-mate Massa was rather luckier on this occasion, but the Brazilian nevertheless found himself unable to challenge either the two McLaren-Mercedes' or an inspired Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber, ultimately winding up on the outside of the second row of the grid, almost half a second shy of the top spot.

"I failed to get the most out of my final set of tyres for the day," the 26-year-old rued, "because I had traffic on my out-lap and this meant I was unable to get the tyres up to temperature. I am happy with the handling of the car, which is well-balanced, and we know we can run at a good race pace.

"It will be a very tough race, especially as we can expect high temperatures. Anything can happen and I think I can fight for the very top places."

Team manager Luca Baldisserri admitted that he had scarcely been able to believe his eyes as the situation unfolded with Raikkonen's F2008, and he acknowledged that last year's Australian Grand Prix winner would be facing "an uphill struggle" on race day this time around.

"I got the impression I was watching a replay of last year's qualifying," the Italian exclaimed, "but an even worse version. We have a car on the second row and one which did not manage to take part in the second session because of an electrical fuel pump problem. We have to look at the data and the components to find out exactly what happened.

"As for the way the final session went, we knew from this winter that we would struggle a bit to do quick times over a single lap and that difficulty cropped up this afternoon. However, we are competitive in terms of race pace and so we can be reasonably confident about tomorrow, even if Kimi clearly faces an uphill struggle, given his grid position."

"This is definitely not the result we were expecting," added new team principal Stefano Domenicali. "We have to work out exactly what caused Kimi's car to stop, and tomorrow he will have a hard fight all through the race to move up the order. Starting from the second row, Felipe will be able to show what he can do in a race in which reliability and strategy will as usual play a key role."