VALENCIA, Spain, June 22, 2012 (AFP) - Michael Schumacher was doubtful about his chances of winning Sunday's European Grand Prix despite finishing fourth fastest in Friday's practice.
The veteran Mercedes driver wound up 0.267 seconds slower than his compatriot and pace-setter Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull who topped the times with a lap of the Valencia street circuit in one minute 39.334 seconds.
In spite of this, the brighter weather predicted for the rest of the weekend could have a huge effect on results and onlookers from the paddock believe the German has a great chance to become the sport's eighth winner in as many races this season.
However, the 43-year-old has yet to finish on the podium since returning to the sport in 2010 and has only finished two races this season.
Schumacher said he was happy with his pace on Friday, but played down any suggestions that he might win the race.
"I think we are in a reasonable position but not a good enough position to win here," he said.
"I obviously appreciate the compliments I have been given by some people in the pitlane, and I hope they are right, but at the moment I am a little bit pessimistic. We had a reasonable day though.
"I guess we can be reasonably close to the frontrunners, but I think it would be too optimistic to put us on pole position."
His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, tenth fastest, said his team had a learned a lot about the performance of his car and was feeling more positive about his chances on Sunday.
"I'm happy with today's practice sessions, and we were able to learn a lot on high and low fuel levels," said Rosberg.
"I'm looking forward to the next two days and it should be an exciting race on Sunday."