Free Practice 3: Rubens on top

With less than half a second covering the first seven drivers at the end of free practice at Imola on Saturday morning, the evidence is pointing to a closely-contested San Marino Grand Prix

After the disappointment of running out of fuel while leading his home Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello (1m22.819s) has put Ferrari back on top of the time sheet at Imola, marginally faster than Ralf Schumacher's Williams-BMW (1m22.897s). The German's session was prematurely ended when he got too sideways at the Variante Alta and spun into the wall.

Mark Webber was a fine third quickest (1m22.958s) after failing to run in the morning's first session due to a problem with the power steering hydraulics. Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren was fourth quickest (1m22.962s), 0.01s ahead of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari (1m22.974s).

After a difficult opening day, Renault has made the progress that Fernando Alonso was hoping for, with the 21-year-old Spaniard recording sixth fastest time (1m23.042s).

David Coulthard's McLaren (1m23.198s) was seventh quickest, and then came a half second gap to Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams (1m23.769s). Jacques Villeneuve (1m24.098s) was ninth quickest with the first of the BAR-Hondas, just 0.001s ahead of Olivier Panis's Toyota.

Further down, Ralph Firman's Jordan posted the 16th best time, while Justin Wilson was 19th, still 0.2s from Minardi team mate Jos Verstappen but quicker than Antonio Pizzonia's Jaguar.

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