Spa: Michael Schumacher refused to write off his chances at his beloved Belgian Grand Prix, even if everybody else did so weeks ago.
The seven times world champion will have to overcome a 10-place grid penalty in Sunday`s race if he is to rekindle a love affair that dates back to his Formula One debut there with Jordan 19 years ago.
With fifth place his best qualifying performance after 12 races of his comeback season with Mercedes, the 41-year-old former Ferrari ace faces another afternoon skirmishing with the also-rans.
Spa has a special place in the German`s heart, however, and he refused to give up hope in a news conference at the circuit he last raced on with Ferrari in 2005.
"I have often called it my living room, there`s lots of fantastic memories from the past and even good ones to look forward to," said Schumacher, who was penalised for a defensive manoeuvre that almost forced Brazilian Rubens Barrichello into the wall in Hungary this month.
"We have mixed weather conditions predicted for this weekend.”
"Yes, we have the 10 places but it makes it extra special and exciting to try and move forward.”
"With mixed conditions, obviously that could help. We are working on the car so altogether we will try to make it as good as possible but I certainly look forward to it very much because it`s one of my most loved tracks and has a special excitement."
Apart from being the track where the Formula One world was awakened to the talents of a driver who would become the most successful the sport has ever seen, Spa is also where Schumacher has his first grand prix win with Benetton in 1992.
No driver has won on the fast and flowing Ardennes layout more often than Schumacher, with six victories, but those days are a distant memory now.
His comeback, so eagerly awaited in 2009 when he announced he was ending three years in retirement, has coughed and spluttered to the point where some fear his legacy could be permanently damaged.
Now only the third-ranked German in the championship, after Red Bull`s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, Schumacher is only three points ahead of compatriot Adrian Sutil in the Force India.
Schumacher can boast of 91 career wins to Rosberg`s none, but the younger German has three times finished on the podium this season while the older man has two fourth places to his credit.
Mercedes have already given up hope of defending the championship won by their predecessors Brawn GP last year and have turned their focus to the 2011 car.
Despite that, Schumacher said there was still plenty to fight for.
"We sort of have to see where we maybe can use the strengths that the car has and where it is a little bit more difficult. That`s something to find out," he said.
"Naturally we want to still take as many points as possible to stay as high up in the constructors as possible. These are the targets and naturally we keep on working within limits to achieve this, but then the focus is on next year`s car."