It may not sound like much for a driver who has a record 68 pole positions to his name, but fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Qantas Australian Formula One Grand Prix was a significant breakthrough for seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
While Schumacher couldn’t live with the pace of McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the final top 10 shootout for pole, his second-row starting position was his best effort in qualifying since his comeback to the sport in 2010.
What’s more, the 43-year-old qualified ahead of Nico Rosberg, his teammate and younger compatriot who had a decisive 16-3 edge in their intra-team Saturday battle last year.
“I am certainly happy with our performance, which is a huge step forward considering where we were in qualifying here last year,” Schumacher said.
“I can only thank the guys for all of the hard work that they have achieved over the winter.”
While Rosberg was disappointed after making a mistake on his final lap and finishing seventh, three-tenths of a second behind his teammate, the 26-year-old was confident of a strong showing on Sunday at a track where he finished on the podium for Williams in 2008.
“We are happy to see that we have obviously improved the car over the winter,” Rosberg said.
“It seems that we can be strong in the race as well from what we learned during practice this weekend. I didn't get the most out of (the car) today, (and) I also made a small mistake on my last lap which cost me some time.
“Seventh place is still a good position, and I will be doing my best to move forward tomorrow.”