Felipe Massa reckons Ferrari's plight may be even worse than the team feared after he could only qualify 16th for Formula 1's Australian Grand Prix season opener in Melbourne.
The Brazilian's teammate Fernando Alonso was a second faster, but only 12th on the grid having spun off in Q2.
"I am very disappointed: this is not the start to the season I was expecting or hoping for," said Massa. "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 mediums and the softs and I suffered with oversteer on entry and understeer on exit.
"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 tomorrow. It will not be easy, because I will start from a long way back, but I will give it my all. I don't think we'll be able to do just a single stop, but will have to try and make up the ground lost today in qualifying."
Massa added that there could now be no doubt about the uphill struggle now in prospect.
"Clearly we are behind, maybe more than we had expected and there are other teams that have improved a lot compared to last year," he said.
Ferrari's technical boss Pat Fry admitted the team faced a tough task to get Massa more competitive for Sunday's race.
"Unfortunately, Felipe was struggling with the balance of his car for the whole day and we will have to do a lot of work to try and sort out the situation as much as possible for tomorrow's race," said Fry.