Given Williams’ poor form at twisty venues like Monaco and Budapest, the Brazilian entered the Marina Bay weekend with modest ambitions. And although both he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas managed to make it into Q3, Massa ended up trailing pole sitter Sebastian Vettel by nearly 2.2 seconds.
“It’s tricky if you see the difference between us, Ferrari and Red Bull,” said Massa. “Not so much Mercedes. We’re not so far away from Mercedes. But the difference with the others is amazing.
“If you see the rear tyres in sector 2 and 3, they’re not losing anything on the tyres. For us, it’s a lot more sensitive. It was not easy to work with the tyres for us, to make it work in the proper way. It can be that Mercedes has a similar issue as well.”
Massa will line up a decent ninth on Sunday’s grid – two spots behind Bottas –, but the 11-time grand prix winner strongly feels he could have been starting higher up the order.
“I made a mistake on my Q3 so I’m not happy because of that. I just tried too much. We just had one set of new tyres. I could not put the lap together and was three tenths slower than my best lap in Q2. So it was really a terrible lap I did. I lost many positions because of that.
“Even with the perfect lap – I was even improving during my last run on Q2 and three tenths quicker than my best –, it could have been possible to be fifth or sixth.”
Click here for some of the most memorable crashes at Singapore