Schumacher best in Canadian GP Saturday practice

Micheal Schumacher pipped Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello to the top of the times in the Saturday practice sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix, he and the Brazilian the only drivers to break the 1:23 second barrier. Schumacher posted a best...

Micheal Schumacher pipped Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello to the top of the times in the Saturday practice sessions for the Canadian Grand Prix, he and the Brazilian the only drivers to break the 1:23 second barrier. Schumacher posted a best of 1:23.385 with Barrichello just two tenths behind.

More rain greeted the opening practice at the circuit Gilles Villeneuve but there was a fair bit of initial activity. Schumacher took the top of the time sheets with a 1:29.045, from Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya. Barrichello was quick to join in, taking the best time from the German and the pair traded the top slot for a few laps. Barrichello took a best of 1:27.993, much improved from yesterday's qualifying.

Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen was an early third fastest and the pair of BARs were also on the pace initially. Renault ventured out early, Fernando Alonso in the top six and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen joining the front runners. Jacques Villeneuve was making an early charge, up to fifth quickest and teammate Jenson Button not far behind.

The fight for position after the Ferraris was a heated one: Frentzen, Alonso, Raikkonen and Button trading times very rapidly and Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella joining in. Frentzen held onto the third spot for a while until he was demoted by Fisichella and the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.

The times were closer than yesterday's sessions, Fisichella just sixth tenths behind Barrichello. However, the pair of scarlet Ferraris were the only ones to break into the 1:26 bracket as the conditions improved, Barrichello clocking a 1:26.662. Jaguar's Mark Webber and Toyota's Olivier Panis climbed the times slightly while Williams was lapping outside the top ten.

Fisichella's third best time in the 1:28s was over two seconds behind Barrichello but the Bridgestone runners again had the upper hand with the top six placings. The Italian was ousted by former teammate Button moving into third and down at the back of the grid Cristiano da Matta and Antonio Pizzonia squabbled with the Minardis.

Frentzen crashed at the end of the straight and wrote off the Sauber's nose cone to end his session. Villeneuve stole third from teammate Button and Pizzonia had a spin but managed to keep it together. Raikkonen stayed in the top ten but McLaren teammate David Coulthard was a lowly fifteenth. Alonso jumped up to fourth near the end, he and Raikkonen the only Michelin runners to make the top eight, but Barrichello's lead proved unbeatable with a final time of 1:26.167.

The rain held off for the second session and da Matta was the first to improve on his earlier time, up to fourteenth but followed it up with a crash that wrote his Toyota off. The session was stopped briefly to allow stewards to remove the car from the track but da Matta was uninjured.

Michael made his mark at the top of the times with a 1:25.636, half a second faster than Barrichello's previous best. Fisichella was still on the pace, posting third quickest, and Raikkonen gearing up to sixth. Barrichello retaliated by breaking the 1:25 level with a 1:25.536, Michael hot on his heels just a tenth behind. With fifteen minutes to go, Ferrari was nearly two seconds clear of third placed Fisichella, 1:27.366.

Activity further down the field saw Williams hovering round the edges of the top ten, along with Pizzonia, then Villeneuve again planted it on third quickest, scraping mere thousandths off Fisichella's time. Schumacher beat Barrichello by half a second to snatch the top slot, 1:24.715, and Button robbed Villeneuve of third. Heidfeld remained constant in the top six, trading times with the BARs.

Raikkonen made a last gasp improvement to sixth and Justin Wilson managed a staggering ninth for Minardi. He was demoted to tenth by the Jordan of Ralph Firman, who then made up to seventh. The gap between the Ferraris and the rest of the field was narrowed, only Ferrari breaking into the 1:23 margin, but still nearly 2 seconds clear.

A bizarre session for Williams, and Coulthard struggling until a last minute improvement to seventh. Panis only managed 16 laps with some unknown problems but Trulli made the top ten in the final laps. Schumacher improved again in the dying seconds, a 1:23.385. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Villeneuve, Fisichella, Button, Alonso, Trulli, Coulthard.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan