Fernando Alonso described the first part of his Malaysian Grand Prix as a "nightmare" after a disappointing second race of the 2014 Formula 1 season for Ferrari.
Alonso narrowly beat Nico Hulkenberg's Force India to fourth at the Sepang circuit to climb to third in the driver's championship, but said he had been unhappy with the performance of his Ferrari throughout the 58-lap race, won by Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.
"I felt slow all the race to be honest," said the double world champion, who made one more pitstop than Hulkenberg but re-passed the Force India in the closing stages as its tyres faded.
"I felt not competitive enough. I was not fast enough in the first stint to compete with the guys in front, and when we switched for another medium [tyre] I was not comfortable with the balance and with the brakes and it was a little bit of a nightmare out there.
"The difference in performance between the stints was just a little bit less fuel every stint and we were a little bit more comfortable with the car, but all through the race we were not happy."
Alonso said he had hoped Ferrari might challenge Red Bull in Malaysia, after showing strong pace in dry free practice on Friday and qualifying on the second row of the grid, but he ultimately could not keep pace with the RB10 and finished over 11s behind four-time world champion Vettel.
"Yesterday after qualifying I thought we could challenge Red Bull, maybe not Mercedes, but run a little bit closer to Red Bull at least," he added.
"We didn't unfortunately. Today to run behind Mercedes and Red Bull I was not quick enough. We know we miss a little bit of performance at the moment compared to the top guys, so we need to improve.
"But on the other side I had zero problems on Friday and Saturday, apart from my incident with the Toro Rosso, and Sunday zero again. In Australia we had some electric motor problems in the first stint, but here everything ran very good.
"Looking at the performance we have in these two races, to have one less point than Hamilton and nine points more than Vettel is something that is the less negative thing of these two races."