Free practice 3: Michael rises to top

Michael Schumacher's methodical build-up to Sunday's European Grand Prix moved up a gear when the Ferrari driver posted the fastest ever lap at the Nurburgring in Saturday morning's first 45-minute free practice session

Free practice 3: Michael rises to top

Schumacher, who was born just 50 miles from the track in Kerpen, recorded a 1m16.308s fastest lap, edging out brother Ralf, who posted a 1m16.574s lap in his Williams-BMW.

Track temperatures remained relatively low, but Michelin appeared capable of performing more competitively against Bridgestone - at least when bolted on to a Williams.

Behind the local siblings, Mika Hakkinen put in a last-minute quick lap to pip team mate and world title prospect David Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes three-four.

Rubens Barrichello was fifth fastest for Ferrari, ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya in the second of the Williams cars.

Jacques Villeneuve managed to spin off at the tight Dunlop Curve (basically, it's a hairpin), but still set the best Honda-powered time with seventh in his BAR.

Two more Honda-motivated machines followed, with the now fit again Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Jordan in eighth and Olivier Panis's BAR ninth.

Nick Heidfeld made it all four Germans in the top 10, with his Sauber team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Jarno Trulli was 12th for Jordan, ahead of a Jaguar 13-14, Pedro de la Rosa just pipping Eddie Irvine.

Bad news for Jenson Button: team mate Giancarlo Fisichella took his Benetton-Renault to 19th, with the sophomore Brit propping up the time sheets in 22nd place. The team has introduced power steering for the first time at the Nurburgring, but still has much to do in more fundamental areas, namely Renault's wide-angle V10.

For full free practice 3 results, click here.

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