Michael Schumacher may have started the Monaco weekend with a tongue-in-cheek prediction about taking pole and winning the race from sixth on the grid but, having achieved the first part, remains confident that he can challenge for the second.

The 43-year old German surprised the paddock by banging in the fastest time of the weekend to claim top spot in qualifying after the clock had expired, but is obliged to start from the outside of row three following his collision with Bruno Senna in Barcelona last time out, allowing Mark Webber to inherit pole. However, despite the setback, Schumacher insists that he can still pose a threat to those at the front on raceday.

"First of all, I am more than thrilled and excited about making a pole here in Monaco," he told journalists, "Monaco, to all of us, is the track of the year, which has a very prestigious position, and to manage pole position here after what I have gone through in the past two-and-a-half years is just fabulous. That's what sticks in my mind.

"As I told you guys already in the press conference, my situation is going to be pole, start the race in sixth and I'm going to win it. Not only did I say it on Wednesday here but I did so at Le Mans as well. I sort of felt that our car could be strong here, so it wasn't out of the blue, and it wasn't just a funny comment. There was quite a bit of optimism in there, but I guess that's my nature.

"I mentioned before the weekend that here, and probably Canada, are tracks that are probably going to suit us, [so] it is not a complete surprise that we are able to fight for the front position. After Thursday free practice - and even this morning - I wasn't at all confident to be able to fight for pole position, then everything seemed to work together. We just dialled the car in to perfection and it's a result of team effort and team work and getting everything sorted and being ready for it.

"What can I say? I've finished fifth from being last; I won from I don't know what positions. I will do as good as I can. It's most likely to be a one-stop strategy here, that's what you have to live with so, in terms of strategy, there's only a very small window to play with. Overtaking we know is tough, but we have DRS and KERS so you might as well try - and be sure I will!"

The pole position also came at an appropriate time to help quell the latest speculation that Schumacher couldn't cut it in F1 after a three-year 'retirement'.

"I'll leave it up to the others to say what it means or doesn't mean [but], for me, I'm obviously excited, very happy," he enthused, "It confirms what I have felt for a long time. It's just sometimes you have put everything at the right moment together. Here it worked out. I have to say a great thanks to all the team, in particular to some of the guys who work very close to me. We had a special session earlier this week that sort of uniforms and unites us even further, and those are the results that come together with it.

"You imagine that, just because of one result I've done at this moment, I'm suddenly restarting or opening a different subject. That's not the case. I'm focused on what I'm doing right now. There will come a time when I will make summary of everything and then I will sit down with the team to see what we're going to do. I'm grateful for all the trust that Mercedes, the team, had in me. [They] supported me, and I'm able to give a little back and I hope I can give even more back tomorrow."


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