Monte Carlo: Michael Schumacher vowed on Saturday to ignore his five-place grid penalty and go out in search of his sixth victory at the Monaco Grand Prix. (Agencies)
Seven-time world champion Schumacher has been struggling this season to convince his critics he can still deliver his once-phenomenal speed, but produced an amazing fastest lap in qualifying to top the times and secure what proved to be an illusory 69th pole position of his career.
He was the fastest man on the circuit in his Mercedes, but due to a five-place grid penalty handed to him for colliding with Bruno Senna's Williams in Spain two weeks earlier, he will start the 78-lap showpiece from sixth on the grid.
It was the great German's best performance in qualifying since he returned to Formula One after a three-year 'retirement' in 2010.
Schumacher said: "First of all, I am more than thrilled and excited about making a pole here in Monaco.
"Monaco to all of us is the track of the year that has a very prestigious position and to manage pole position here after what I have gone through in the last two-and-a-half years is just fabulous -- and that is what sticks into my mind.
"I told you guys in (an earlier) press conference that I would get pole, start sixth and win it - and that is what I am going to aim for. That's all I have in my mind and the past doesn't matter."
Schumacher, who has started from pole in Monaco three times in his career, described the feeling, when he knew he was fastest, as 'beautiful'.
"Obviously I saw my time on the dashboard and I thought it should not be too bad, but you don't know -- as being one of the early ones out on track -- you don't know what will come behind.
"Seeing the monitors -- and at one point I saw number one -- and then I started to believe and I got confirmation on the radio. It is just beautiful."
He added that he saw his performance as proof of his ability to reach the level he believes he has been able to operate at for some time, in spite of results not always matching his expectations.
"I leave it up to others what it means or does not mean. I am obviously excited and very happy and it confirms what I have felt for a long time," he said.
"It is just sometimes you have to put everything together at the right moment.
"I have to say a great thanks to all the team, particularly some of the guys who work very closely with me - we had a special session earlier this week that unified and united us even further.
"This is the result that comes together from that. I am grateful to the trust that Mercedes and the team had in me. They supported me. I am happy to give it back and want to give more back tomorrow (Sunday)."
Despite Schumacher's amazing effort, it is Mark Webber of Red Bull who will start from pole position -- and he was gracious in the aftermath of a thrilling session when he said it was not his, but Schumacher's day.
"It is Michael's day," said Webber. "(That was) a good lap from him. It was a tight session and lots of different people arrived at the back end of qualifying with different situations with tyres.
"I knew I was aiming for the first few rows for sure -- and it came tight. The first run in Q3 was not too bad and I thought I could go for pole.
"It was a pretty good lap and I'm happy with it. It's a very good position to be starting tomorrow (Sunday).
"We have a very good car. The guys have done a good job and I am very, very happy."
Monte Carlo: Michael Schumacher vowed on Saturday to ignore his five-place grid penalty and go out in search of his sixth victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.