MONZA, Italy, Sept 10, 2011 (AFP) - Twenty years on from his maiden outing for Benetton at his first Italian Grand Prix, where he finished fifth, Michael Schumacher was looking for a similar strong result on Saturday after qualifying eighth for Mercedes for Sunday's 53-laps race.
The 42-year-old seven-times champion and five times winner of this race said he was optimistic after saving a set of tyres and completing his programme for the day. "Qualifying today went mostly according to plan," . I don't think we could have taken much more -- maybe I could have ended up one place higher.
"I didn't have an ideal fast lap as I tried to use the slip stream from Lewis (Hamilton), but then he locked up in the second chicane which made me lock up too.
"However I will be on soft tyres tomorrow which should be better for my race. As our race pace looked quite good yesterday, I was more focusing on the race and trying to use the tyres in the right way.
"For tomorrow, I will try to get a good start and take it from there."
Team-mate and fellow-German Nico Rosberg, who also completed just one run in Q3, was happy to have saved tyres for the race too as he wualified ninth.
He said: "I'm happy with today's qualifying and the compromise that we made to be strong in the race tomorrow. "The performance in Q2 shows that the car is working well here, and we saved two sets of options which is good.
"I'm also the only driver who took part in Q3 who will be starting on the hard tyre, so it will be interesting and should help me a lot at the start of the race.
"I think it will be a really good race tomorrow."