The Ferrari driver's championship-leading title rival Lewis Hamilton was only sixth fastest in the afternoon, as he had been in the first session, ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas with both Mercedes drivers reporting a general lack of grip.
Speaking to Sky Sports television, Wolff said the team had struggled from the start and in both wet and dry conditions with a temperamental auto he has previously described as being a bit of a "diva".
"Even if we got the greatest of deals, to do it for free for example, what's the product?" he told Reuters.
"I made a mistake in turn 11 during my final lap in Q3 and lost my rhythm". "I think we have a lot of races left, I think we have a strong vehicle".
Ricciardo won a year ago in Malaysia from that same starting slot after Hamilton's engine expired while he was leading the race. Fernando Alonso completed the top ten. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was second, six-tenths of a second adrift.
There were comforting words from Vettel to his mechanics, and he chose to look on the bright side of a complex situation such as saving tires for race day.
"The auto is damaged, in my opinion, things like this in 2017 shouldn't happen on a permanent circuit, they shouldn't happen on any circuit". Ferrari are strong, Mercedes are a bit unusual for now but I'm sure they'll get quicker tomorrow so we need to improve. Daniel Ricciardo won the race previous year, while Verstappen is desperate to take his first podium since China.
"I really didn't think our vehicle was well suited to the track, but Lewis' problem opened the door and then I held off Max in the closing stages to take the win".
Hamilton sat in the garage for most of the morning as the rain swept across the circuit.
"It's been a very hard day".
"Today we arrived and the auto was much better, still it looked like the Ferraris were a bit ahead".
Bottas was optimistic the team could have a better Saturday. "Definitely unusual, unexpected and we are a long way off", said Hamilton. "So we have some work to do if we want to be on the front row tomorrow".
The Formula 4 South East Asia Championship issued a statement apologising "unreservedly" for the debacle when all nine cars were left stranded across the circuit after a miscalculation on how much fuel was needed.
The session was red-flagged and ended just under 10 minutes early when Romain Grosjean crashed his Haas heavily having hit the drain cover.
"I didn't see anything. I don't know if it's legit or they are playing some games". "It was just spinning and heading for the wall".
"In the dry we had quite a big gap to Ferrari", said Ricciardo.