In the week that he announced he would be leaving Toyota at the end of the season, Ralf Schumacher produced one of his finest qualifying performances of the season in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Qualifying has been a mixed blessing for Schumacher this year, strong showings at Silverstone and Budapest peppered by performances at the other end of the scale at various time in the season.

Nonetheless, with Toyota showing well in free practice, Schumacher was able to translate that pace into qualifying by easing into the top ten shootout and then producing the sixth fastest time whilst there.

Although a place lower than his best of the season - that occurring in the British Grand Prix - a more confident looking Schumacher, free from the speculation over his future at Toyota, was delighted to score a spot on the third row.

"Obviously we are happy with what we achieved today in qualifying. It was a decent session overall and the car felt good throughout, even if it was a bit more difficult to drive with the fuel on board in Q3. So I'm happy to have made it into the top six. Nonetheless it will be a tough race because there is heavy rain forecast so anything is possible.

"I'm sure some people will have amended their strategies given what we saw last week in Fuji but we'll find out tomorrow. We weren't very strong in that race so we will hope for better here. It's really great to see so many local fans in the stands here in Shanghai. I hope they will come again for the race and I hope we will do a good job for them."

Team-mate Jarno Trulli however was not enjoying his weekend so much, the Italian unusually lacklustre throughout qualifying, so much so that he may started from his 13th place grid slot with the spare car.

"This has been a difficult day which started this morning when I had a problem finding grip in the car. Straight from the first lap I noticed the balance had changed compared to yesterday and I just couldn't understand how. The more laps I did the worse it seemed to get. The wind is stronger today but that didn't really affect things.

"So this afternoon I was really short of pace and I was just able to make it through the first session but that was it. If we cannot find out the cause of the problem tonight I may have to switch to the T-car tomorrow. Of course we are expecting another wet race so that will have a massive effect but I will go out there and push as hard as ever to bring home a result."

 

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