Michael Schumacher was delighted to top the timesheets in qualifying today for the Monaco Grand Prix, even though he will not be sitting on pole position for tomorrow’s race.
The five-time Monaco Grand Prix winner must serve the five-place grid penalty that he picked up in Barcelona a fortnight ago after running into the back of Bruno Senna, and will start sixth.
“It is simply a wonderful feeling to set pole after such a long time, and particularly here in Monaco,” exclaimed Schumacher. “Okay, it has taken a little bit longer than I might have wanted in the second chapter of my career, but that makes it even sweeter. It’s just beautiful.
“We already thought that this circuit should suit us, and it’s the perfect confirmation of all the work from every team member in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart – a big thank you to every one of them, because this is a team result.
“Of course, it’s unfortunate that I won’t start from the very front but that’s how it is. I will do as well as I can. We know that overtaking is tough but with DRS and KERS, you might as well try it – and you can be sure I will.”
Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg will benefit from Schumacher’s penalty. He qualified third but will now start on the front of the grid, alongside pole-sitter Mark Webber.
“I am pleased with the result today and especially for what we have shown as a team in the past few weeks,” said Rosberg. “We have had a couple of difficult races since the win in China but there has been a lot of hard work to turn it round, and today we were on top as a team which is great to see.
“Thank you to everybody back at base who has brought us back to the front again. I had a pretty smooth qualifying session, and managed to save two sets of new super soft tyres for the race, but it was just so close out there this afternoon, it’s incredible and fantastic for Formula One.
“Congratulations to Michael, he did a fantastic job. Of course, I am sorry for him that he must take the penalty, but that means I will be on the front row in Monaco. And at a race where overtaking can be so difficult, that’s a great place to start.”
Team principal Ross Brawn was, understandably, very happy with the result today.
“It was a wonderful qualifying session and we are obviously delighted,” he said. “Michael will take a five-place penalty tomorrow, but today he was the quickest guy out there – congratulations to him. Nico did a fantastic job as well, and was in the hunt for pole throughout the session.
“Having both drivers in the top three shows that the team has done a superb job this weekend to dial in the car and follow the evolution of the track. But it was a real team effort today and my thanks also to everyone back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth.
“Now, we have one more step to make. Last year, we suffered big problems with the tyres at the beginning of the race. That is something we must avoid tomorrow.”