Jenson Button admitted that he was disappointed to have qualified fifth for the Chinese Grand Prix and that he had not expected to be outpaced by the Red Bulls and Fernando Alonso's Renault in Shanghai on Saturday.
The world championship leader, who has started from pole position in both races so far this season, said that while he knew Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber would present stiff opposition, he had hoped to be faster than them.
"It's not quite as good as what I expected," Button told the BBC. "The Red Bulls were quick yesterday, we were watching them in the high speed corners and they were very, very fast.
"So if you at Q2 it looked like they had two or three tenths on us, so yeah they are competitive. And it's not us driving around slowly or having a lot of fuel in the car because it's Q2 and you run with low fuel so they are going to be tough to beat.
"We knew they were competitive but we didn't think quite that competitive."
"It's not a shock because they were quick in the first race as well and in the second I don't think they really got it together," he added.
"In Melbourne they were quick, quite competitive, not as much as they are here. But every circuit is different and it seems their car is working on this type of circuit."
Button conceded that he was slightly frustrated to be starting Sunday's race from the third row, one position behind his team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
"It is obviously competition for us and it's a pity that we are starting behind them because it is very tough here to overtake," he said. "So we will see what happens."