Mike Stevens | Apr 5, 2009

Photo by mohdphoto.

Ferrari's Filipe Massa has admitted his team made a strategic error in qualifying for tonight's Malaysian Grand Prix, saying his poor performance was the result of complacency.

Massa will start from 16th on the grid after he failed to progress beyond the initial 20-car qualifying session.

The Brazilian posted the fourth quickest time before parking his car in pit lane, confident he had done enough to avoid elimination and secure progress to Q2.

But Massa's time was swamped in the dying stages of Q1, sending him plummeting outside of the top 15 and leaving the 2008 runner-up without the opportunity to improve upon his lap.

Despite his frustration at starting towards the rear of the grid, Massa refused to single out who was to blame for the result.

Massa told formula1.com: “After the qualifying, I thought maybe I could go 11th or 12th, but not 16th. I blame everybody. I blame me, I blame the engineers, I blame everybody that was working in the pit looking at the lap times.

“It was a team mistake, including myself. But it was a huge wake-up call that we need to use everything we have because every session is difficult.”

The Brazilian also said that this year, the field is far more competitive. In recent seasons, an early fast lap time would usually suffice to bump a driver through into the next round. As Massa discovered, not this year.

felipe-massa_01Photo by Atomic Racing Red.

Ferrari had been impressive in practice, leaving many in the F1 paddock, including Brawn GP, convinced the team was set to bounce back from their Albert Park disappointment.

Outwardly at least, Massa wasn't showing the same level of optimism, but he was hopeful guiding his car towards the second row of the grid.

“This morning I thought maybe it would have been possible to fight for the top five, but looking at the qualifying I think that it was possible to be in the top seven,” he said.

Australia's Mark Webber will start from fifth on the grid after Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello were handed penalties.

The Red Bull driver has shown impressive pace all weekend, and is a strong chance of securing his third career podium finish.

All he needs to do now is cross his fingers and toes that he won't be struck by misfortune at Sepang's treacherous first corner...and hope for rain.

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