Very close qualifying times in Malaysia make Massa an early Q1 casualty.
Over confident Ferrari, keen to save soft tyres for later qualifying and the race, decided on a single run for Massa in Q1. As the times came down in Q1 Massa held firm, confident that his initial time was good enough to go through to Q2.
Too late for him to get round for a final attempt he watched as he was pushed out of the top 15 and out of any further attempt to improve from his 16th grid position.
In a BBC interview he later said, “It was a big surprise not to make the top 15, it was a bit of a mistake!”.
Ferraris failed to translate good performance in practice into solid grid positions, with Raikonen – looking fuel heavy – qualifying 9th and Massa in 16th (7th and 16th after penalties).
It rather looks as if Ferrari, while retaining Schumacher on their pit wall, are missing the calculating strategic mind of Ross Brawn – now masterminding his own team into two successive pole positions.