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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Saturday, 29 May 2010 16:48 UK

Michael Schumacher pleased with Mercedes progress

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher laughs off Turn Eight error

Michael Schumacher believes Mercedes have closed in on pace-setters Red Bull at the Turkish Grand Prix.

The 41-year-old German secured his best qualifying result since returning from a three-year retirement by taking fifth place on the grid at Istanbul Park.

Red Bull and McLaren occupy the four places ahead of him, but Schumacher said: "We have got closer.

"The guys have done a great job with the aerodynamic upgrades. They have moved us closer to the top."

Schumacher's performance marks a significant step forward for Mercedes.

He was 1.3 seconds behind Mark Webber's pace-setting Red Bull at the Spanish Grand prix two races ago, 0.764secs adrift in Monaco and only 0.562secs behind in Turkey.

He said he was pleased the car had moved forward as a result of new developments introduced for Turkey - a new diffuser and the return of the F-duct aerodynamic device that the team first used in Spain.

It was a good qualifying performance from the team after a lot of hard work here at the track and back at the factory on the latest developments for our car

Ross Brawn
Mercedes team principal

He said: "The long wheelbase car is basically the same car we had in Barcelona but with aerodynamic upgrades.

"I have to thank all the guys at home who have done a great job.

"If you remember where we had been at a similar track in Barcelona and where we are now, I am quite thankful for the job they have done - it has definitely paid off."

Schumacher's team-mate Nico Rosberg qualified sixth - just 0.095secs behind - to give Mercedes sole rights to the third row.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was able to split the Red Bulls, showing that his team have also found a bit more pace.

Schumacher admitted both the McLarens and the Red Bulls had moved forward but suggested Mercedes' improvement was greater.

"It is not a surprise [that Red Bull and McLaren have improved], but you have to say we have got closer," he said.

"That is really positive. I really think that we have made a step forward."

Schumacher was even able to laugh off an error he made that saw him spin off at Turn Eight on his final qualifying lap.

"I think the circuit somehow got tighter, someone moved the apex," he joked.

"What happened in Turn Eight was that it was my last go, the fast lap before was a good one, so obviously you try to push even more, especially as on this lap you can win time.

"I went out a bit wide and off it went."

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was also happy with the qualifying results.

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He said: "It was a good qualifying performance from the team after a lot of hard work here at the track and back at the factory on the latest developments for our car.

"Michael and Nico have been very evenly matched throughout the weekend and have worked well together to ensure that we have been able to get the new parts functioning and extract the maximum performance.

"Fifth and sixth positions on the grid gives us the potential to have a strong race tomorrow and we look forward to seeing what Nico and Michael can achieve.

"We've seen just how challenging the Istanbul Park track can be with Turn Eight catching out many drivers over the course of the day and Michael was no exception but thankfully there is no damage done."



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see also
Webber storms to Turkish GP pole
30 May 10 |  Formula 1
Highlights - Turkish GP qualifying
29 May 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton eyes first win of season
29 May 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari will bounce back - Alonso
30 May 10 |  Formula 1
Senna lifted by Hispania progress
29 May 10 |  Formula 1
Turkish GP qualifying as it happened
29 May 10 |  Formula 1
Turkish GP qualifying photos
29 May 10 |  Formula 1
We can race Red Bull, say McLaren
28 May 10 |  Formula 1


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