Felipe Massa cut a frustrated figure after seeing his world championship title hopes take another knock in today’s qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver had been in good form during the first two sessions but then struggled in the third to finish a disappointing fifth.
It leaves the Brazilian with a mountain to climb tomorrow if he is to make ground on championship leader Lewis Hamilton, especially as the McLaren driver will start from pole at Fuji Speedway.
The result is especially disappointing after Massa dropped from pole to 13th in Singapore two weeks ago due to a pit-stop blunder.
And the 27-year-old blamed a lack of grip for his time of one minute 18.874 seconds today.
“It is a shame,” he said. “I was the quickest man on track but at the wrong moment. In Q3, I never had the right amount of grip from both sets of tyres that I used.
“On my first run I was a bit cautious on my ’out’ lap and so suffered in the first sector, making a mistake at Turn Three.
“On the second run, I did the opposite and found myself without grip at the end of the lap.
“So, I’ve ended up fifth on the grid, which is definitely not an easy place to be.
“I will try and work my way up in the race to score big points for the championship.”
In contrast, Massa’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen produced one of his better qualifying performances to take second place on the grid tomorrow.
However, the Finn was still not completely happy, particularly with the performance of his car.
“I’m pleased to be back on the front row, even if I’m not totally happy as I always want to be the fastest,” he said.
“On top of that, I’m not completely satisfied with the handling of my car. All weekend we have worked very hard to find the best set-up but we did not get it a hundred percent right.
“All the same, we have improved our performance, especially with a heavy fuel load.
“This result means I’m in good shape for the race. Tomorrow, I will try to make the best of the situation.
“My aim is to finish this season in the best way possible and help the team to win both championships.”