Free practice 3: Ferrari fastest

Ferrari once again showed that their decision to bring the 2001 car to Melbourne was the right one as Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello ended the third free practice session over a second ahead of their nearest rivals

Free practice 3: Ferrari fastest

The Prancing Horses were the only cars to go quicker than last year's pole time, with Schumacher ending the session on a 1m26.177s, three tenths up on his team-mate. David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen were next up for McLaren ahead of the Williams pair of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Colombian's session was cut short after his brakes caught fire in the pitlane; cause for concern for the team ahead of Sunday's 58-lap race. Olivier Panis was the best-of-the rest for BAR, followed by Nick Heidfeld, whose Sauber coasted to a halt on his in-lap at the end of the session. The spectacular Felipe Massa (Sauber) and Jarno Trulli (Renault) rounded out the top 10.

With 13 minutes of the session remaining the red flags came out after Takuma Sato (Jordan) suffered a sizeable crash at Stewart. The Japanese rookie lost control on the way into the right-hander and spun across the gravel trap and into the barriers. The right hand side of the car was taken off the in the impact as was the car's distinctive swooping nose. With spare cars not allowed in free practice, he'll have to sit out the next session unless the team are able to repair the car.

"Let's just hope that he learns from that," was team boss Eddie Jordan's curt reaction to the incident.

The stoppage came at the worst possible time for Michael Schumacher, who had only just taken to the track for his first flying lap. The world champion's split times were well up on Barrichello's best at the time. However, he was soon at the head of the times once the session resumed.

Giancarlo Fisichella showed how nervous the handling of the EJ12 is with a brisk 360-degree spin at Ascari, although the Italian somehow managed to avoid hitting anything and returned gingerly to the pits. Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa had a trip across the grass after out-braking himself into Turn 1, but continued with damage, as Trulli did likewise in the Renault.

It was a poor session for Jaguar, with de la Rosa and Eddie Irvine 20th and 21st respectively. Only Minardi's Alex Yoong was slower than the R3 drivers.

For full practice session 3 results, click here.

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