Schuey pleased to keep his rivals close

Although it is rare for five-time world champion Michael Schumacher to finish a qualifying session in ninth place, it is quite exceptional that he should declare this as a satisfactory performance

Schuey pleased to keep his rivals close

Yet that is what happened in first qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix today (Friday), as he kept nearest world championship rival Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams-BMW in his sights, and put McLaren-Mercedes' Kimi Raikkonen behind him as the single-lap qualifying shook up the order on a dusty Hungaroring track.

"All in all, the result is not too bad," said Schumacher, who got the worst of the track conditions by going first today. "Especially in terms of the battle for the title. In fact, my main rivals are pretty close to me. Therefore, ninth spot can still be good for tomorrow.

"I am confident for the rest of the weekend. I think that, overall, the situation is better than the one we experienced in Hockenheim."

Schumacher was encouraged by the pace of team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who was fifth fastest from running fifth on the track today.

"We did not exploit all of the car's available potential, but a place in the top five today puts me in a good position to fight for a front row place on the grid tomorrow," said Barrichello. "We still need to work on the car's set-up."

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