Felipe Massa admitted that he was surprised at the turn of pace shown by some rivals after qualifying fifth for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Brazilian had topped Friday afternoon practice and was second fastest on Saturday morning. But he ended up qualifying only fifth, over four tenths of a second off Lewis Hamilton's pole position time.
Asked if he was surprised by the speed of those who had vaulted him, Massa replied: "Yeah, I think so. If you look at yesterday, the lap time we did was really good and this morning, I didn't do a great lap time because I had some traffic in the last sector but it was not bad.
"The other cars improved a lot from this morning to qualifying and to Q3 they improved massively. A 1m34s from Lewis was a very good time and the lap time from Kimi [Raikkonen] was very good as well.
"They definitely improved a lot and we lost a few positions that we were looking for from yesterday. But the strategy in the race is more important than two or three [grid] positions."
Massa added that his Ferrari could have the edge over its rivals in Sunday's Chinese GP in terms of soft tire degradation. The Brazilian starts fifth on the grid among a group of seven drivers who all used soft rubber in Q3.
Although this compound is expected to degrade rapidly and force very early pit stops, Massa suspects it might not be as bad for him as for others.
"Even though the soft degradation is high, it was good [in practice] compared to other cars and I hope we have the same tomorrow. If we do, the chance to fight with the guys in front is good.
"[Challenging for the podium] is the target for tomorrow and the long runs were good on both tires."