Saturday, 26 May 2012 14:57
Michael Schumacher's critics will be silent on Saturday as the seven time Formula One World Champion aced qualifying to take his 69th career pole in the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix.
A multiple winner in the Principality, the Mercedes driver has often struggled since returning to Formula 1 in 2010.
But he was the fastest on the Cote d'Azur on Saturday.
"I'm grateful to all the trust Mercedes had in me," said the delighted German.
"I'm able to give back a little bit in qualifying and hope I can give more back tomorrow."
Team boss Ross Brawn, who also worked closely with the 43 year old German at Ferrari years ago, commented: "I have to confess it took a little tear from my eye."
However, despite Brawn telling Schumacher on the radio he is a "little star", the German will in fact not start from pole, due to the five place grid penalty imposed in Barcelona two weeks ago for running into the rear of a slower Bruno Senna who was braking early and struggling for grip.
"The penalty is frustrating but that's the way it is," Brawn told the BBC.
Also penalised on Saturday was Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado, who qualified ninth in his Williams.
The Venezuelan moves back ten places to a lowly nineteenth, with the stewards taking a dim view of his aggressive chop on Sergio Perez in morning practice.
Schumacher's penalty means Mark Webber will start Sunday's race from pole, with struggling Sebastian Vettel's sister Red Bull just tenth.
2012 F1 Monaco - Qualifying results:
||Paul di Resta
||Pedro de la Rosa
Q1 107% time: 1'20.697
Select 'Play' below to listen to audio|
"I saw my time on the dashboard and thought it wasn't too bad. But I didn't know what was coming behind, I was watching the big screens and then I saw P1 on my name. Then I got confirmation on the radio and it was just beautiful. Here and Canada are tracks that should suit us and the plan for tomorrow is to start from 6th and try to win. It's not a complete surprise we're able to fight for the top positions. After Thursday and even this morning I wasn't confident I could fight for pole but for qualifying everything came together. So this is a result of team result, team effort, so that's great.
“I've finished here in 5th place after starting last, so I'll do my best. It looks like a one stop only, so there's not much to do in terms of strategy. DRS and KERS will help, so I'll do all I can to recover positions. I cannot compare this pole position with the ones I did in the first part of my career, so I'll just say it's sweet and a good feeling, plus also the best from this chapter. I had hoped for better results, but I know why they didn't come. Glad I could prove my worth and this is a great result.
"I predicted this pole position when I was watching the MotoGP in Le Mans as I knew we would be competitive here, so that's why I was so optimistic before I even got here. As for the future we're not going to decide anything on one result. Later in the season, when the time will be right, we'll sit down and discuss the situation.
"First of all I'm more than thrilled and exiting about making pole in Monaco. It's the track of the year, it's a very prestigious pole position. To get it here after what I went through over the last 2 years is fantastic. But as I said before I'm going to start from 6 and win it. The past doesn't mater at all.
“I leave it up to the others what this result means. It just confirms what I felt for a long time, but you need to get it all together. A great thank you for the whole team and especially for the people working closely to me. I'm grateful for all the trust the team and Mercedes put into me. I'm glad to be able to pay them back and now I'm looking forward for tomorrow."
"This is Michael's day, he did a great lap. Of course at the end of Q3 people had different situations for tyres but we put everything on the line. since the start of qualifying it felt good for me and I was getting confident. The first run of Q3 wasn't too bad, I felt I could go for pole and did my best. I think we'll be competitive in the race, the team has done a great job, so it should be OK. Off course no one has done long runs with the supersofts because of Thursday race, but we should be all in the ball park. As for strategy, we'll see in the race how it goes.
“It was a very very close between the three front rows. There were different strategies for tyres and in the end it was a good battle. Michael did a very good lap but it feels great to be on pole. We weren't too string on Thursday, but now the car is very good. Looking forward for tomorrow.
“We certainly made the balance the car for today, especially in the few fast corners around here, where we were lacking on Thursday. We pulled it all together, the rubber on the track also helped and, of course, the driver always brakes a bit later of Saturday.
"The weekend has gone very well. It's great to see how we, as a team, managed to turn things around after two difficult races. It's great to see we're competitive here, I'm starting from the front row and that's a great place to start this race from.
“The front warm-up was a bit of an issue in Q3 and I also I changed the set-up a bit from Q2 to Q3, so I needed two laps to get up to the challenge. For the race tyre degradation will be an issue but I think we did a good preparations so I'm confident for the race.
“The weather will be difficult to predict has it has been a bit strange over the last few days. I wasn't too aware of the situation after the first run so I knew I had to improve my time to guarantee I would be on pole position. It was a good session, I'm very happy with the work we've done, but I didn't get the maximum out of the car in the last run but I'm looking forward for tomorrow, as I'm in a good position to try and win."
Driver quotes courtesy Agnes Carlier
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