McLaren: We're not fast enough
Manama - McLaren, a team of champions with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, started the new F1 season with a disturbingly familiar refrain on Saturday F- "We are not quick enough".
Briton Button, who will start Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix with the number one on his car for the first time, qualified only eighth.
Hamilton, the 2008 champion hoping to wrest the title back from his new team mate and compatriot, will start in fourth place after a quickest lap more than a second slower than Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on pole.
"Red Bull and Ferrari looked very quick today," team principal Martin Whitmarsh, flanked by his drivers, told reporters.
"We today were lacking in grip, we struggled in the middle section and we didn't deal with the bump into turn six...I think it was really difficult for our guys, we weren't quick enough today.
"We will see what happens in the race. We've got two great racers so no-one here is going to give up on a strong result tomorrow."
McLaren started last season with a car well off the pace and spent half the year getting back to the point where Hamilton could win races again.
Saturday's showing was nothing in comparison to that nightmare and Hamilton said he was actually quite relaxed.
"You can't be happy with fourth but it's quite a positive start," he said. "It's a much better place to start than where we were last year."
Whitmarsh said McLaren had not given the best car to the drivers and had work to do but Button excused his new employers.
"I think in race trim the car is going to be working very differently," he said.
"I don't think we are going to get the same result in the race that we got in qualifying. So with heavy fuel loads I think we'll see a different line-up.
"The Ferraris we knew would be quick, they've been quick in every run they've done since the start of winter testing...we've got a little bit of pace to find in the car," he added.
"I struggled with the balance. It's very kind of Martin to say that I did a good job but I was disappointed with qualifying, to be down in P8. But the good thing is it's issues we can solve for tomorrow."