Ferrari endured its worst start to a season since 1992, with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen both retiring with mechanical problems.
The team's boss Stefano Domenicali admitted after the race that his main concern was the lack of pace, and not the F60's reliability issues.
Di Montezemolo believes, however, that Ferrari will show its real strengths in Malaysia this weekend.
"I expect to see the real strengths of the teams on a less strange circuit than Melbourne, as is the Malaysian track," Di Montezemolo was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I think the first race has gone a lot worse than what we and I had expected.
"There's no doubt we're paying the price for the 2008 championship, which ended at the last turn of the last lap of the last race. We, like McLaren, had to develop the car to the end, while the others were already able, for several months, to work on a completely new project. Let's not forget that this year's car isn't an evolution.
"So, those who had the time has been able to gain an even bigger advantage."
He added: "I think we made a few mistakes too many in Australia, and most of all I expect to see the real strengths of the teams in Malaysia. I'm convinced, in fact I'm totally sure, that there will be a strong reaction, even though the cars are the same."
The Ferrari chief also urged the FIA to clarify the diffuser regulations quickly in order to have a more level playing field.
"I expect clarity over the regulations. It's not good to start a season with such important question marks," the Italian said.
"Either these diffusers are legal, so it must be said and proved quickly, even though we and many other teams don't think they are, and we'll adapt; otherwise they aren't legal, so in this case too they must say so as soon as possible, because who interprets the regulations and isn't going by the rules creates an difference in performance which isn't good.
"This is what I'm expecting to happen as soon as possible, and I know that all the people at Ferrari will work on it in the next days."