Free practice 3: Schuey storms it

With an air of inevitability, drivers were met with a very wet Silverstone track for Saturday morning's first free practice session of the British Grand Prix. And with almost the same inevitability, it was Michael Schumacher who topped the time sheets, despite a spin bringing the world champion's running to a premature end

Free practice 3: Schuey storms it

After the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard finished on top at the end of Friday's running, Schumacher took back the initiative and set the fastest time of 1m31.430s halfway through the 45-minute session. On the next lap, however, an uncharacteristic mistake put the German into a spin, leaving his Ferrari beached in the gravel at Brooklands and robbing him of the chance to put in a lap when the track was at its least wet.

With the rain easing in the middle of the session, a dry line began to develop and although it began to fall again towards the end, Heinz-Harald Frentzen managed to put in a late lap to grab second place ahead of early pacesetter Hakkinen, followed by Coulthard in fourth.

Conditions were clearly testing and Frentzen, Coulthard and Sauber ace Kimi Raikkonen, who finished a lowly 14th, all pirouetted across the track in the final minutes.

Rubens Barrichello managed to stay out of trouble in the second Ferrari and finished fifth fastest ahead of Nick Heidfeld, who unlike Raikkonen, continued Sauber's impressive form with sixth place, despite some over exuberance on the exit of Luffield which caused his C20 to swap ends.

Jarno Trulli was almost two and a half seconds behind the pace of the leaders and wound up seventh in the second Jordan-Honda, which had sprouted an extra wing on its airbox overnight, in an attempt to gain some extra downforce in the appalling conditions.

As if to prove that the Williams team is not a lost cause this weekend, Ralf Schumacher wound up eighth as the highest Michelin runner, but it is clear that in the wet conditions the Bridgestone runners clearly have the upper hand.

Olivier Panis was ninth, while his British American Racing team mate Jacques Villeneuve was unable to set a time after his BAR003 came to a halt on the grass at the pitlane exit with transmission trouble and refused to go any further.Jaguar's Eddie Irvine also hit trouble when the hydraulics failed on his R2. Schumacher Jr's Williams team mate Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top 10.

With conditions set to remain dire for the second session, expect Schumacher to continue at the front. But only once he's dug his Ferrari back out of the kitty litter.

For practice session three results, click here.

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