Final practice: Ralf gets his way

Ralf Schumacher was not to be denied a top slot today, despite some stiff competition from his Colombian team-mate. The German stayed top of the times for most of the final session of practice for the European GP, then, with just seconds to go, Juan Pablo Montoya stormed ahead of Olivier Panis and into second place.

Final practice: Ralf gets his way

With just 0.06s between Montoya and Schumacher the battle for pole will be a tight affair this afternoon. In fact, the top seven were all within a second of the 1m31.305s lead time. The deciding factor could easily be the weather, however, as both sessions this morning were played out under ominously grey skies.

David Coulthard thumped his way over the kerbs in the McLaren on his way to fourth, with Kimi Raikkonen hot on his heels. Cristiano da Matta got a dose of whatever has infected Panis and rounded out the top six. The Brazilian driver kicked the session off, keen to get as many laps under his rookie belt as possible. In the end, only sauber's Nick Heidfeld did as many tours (22).

While Schumacher Jnr and Montoya were locked together at the top of the times, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello struggled to feature in the top ten. Michael could be seen donating handfuls of opposite lock to charity, but strategy and guile may yet prove to have more to do with his placing than any lack of performance.

Nonetheless, Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn could be seen on the pitwall in deep debate with one of the team's Bridgestone tyre representatives. All will become clear at two o'clock this afternoon!

Ahead of the Ferrari's were the Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso.

Jaguar Racing's Mark Webber spun and lost drive on the entrance to the pit straight - just eight laps into the session. He had been pinging all the apexes in fine style and running ninth fastest when he retired. Team-mate Pizzonia finished behind Barrichello in 11th.

Justin Wilson's miserable weekend faltered further with a retirement halway into the session.

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Saturday Second Free Practice - European GP

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