Melbourne, March 17, 2012 (AFP) - Felipe Massa summed up Ferrari's woes on Saturday after a dismal qualifying session for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"I am very disappointed," said the Brazilian. "This is not the start I expected this season or that I hoped for. It is much worse."
Massa qualified 16th on the grid for Sunday's race, a full second slower than his Ferrari team-mate, twice champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who spun off, but still took 12th on the grid.
Alonso showed his feelings with a burst of frustrated anger in a confrontation with a marshal who tried to help him from his stranded car.
"It was not easy with the car," he said afterwards. "This is not the easiest car to handle at all -- we don't have enough of anything. Not enough speed, not enough down-force and not enough handling. "
Massa said: "It was difficult right from the start of FP3: the balance of the car was never what I wanted and I never managed to get a clean lap.
"I was always lacking grip, both on the medium and the soft tyres and I suffered with over-steer on entry and under-steer on exit in the corners. I don't know why, but the car seemed to be worse than in winter testing, maybe down to the characteristics of this circuit.
"Now we will try and do what we can in the race. It will not be easy, because I will start from a long way back, but I will give it my all."
He added: "Clearly we are behind, maybe more than we had expected and there are other teams that have improved a lot compared to last year. It is not easy."
Team chief Stefano Domenicali urged Ferrari's fans to keep faith. He said: "Everyone had been waiting for this hour of qualifying to understand what the pecking order would be: we knew it would be tough for us and that's how it went.
"I understand that at the moment, our fans are disappointed, but I would urge them to be cautious before making any definitive judgement, as if everything was already over.
"We need to remain calm and concentrated. We have a lot of work to do and our engineers are well aware of that, as indeed they were before even leaving for Melbourne.
"The season is going to be very long, just as tomorrow's race will be long and hard. Given our grid positions, the realistic aim is for us to get both cars into the points. As usual, we will do our utmost."