Free practice 4: Schuey fastest...again

Status Quo was maintained at the end of the final free practice session before qualifying begins for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix with McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari occupying the top four slots

Free practice 4: Schuey fastest...again

Michael Schumacher went fastest and was the only driver to dip into the 1m23s bracket while World Championship leader Mika Hakkinen was a close second, setting his time early in the session leapfrogging from eighth spot. Rubens Barrichello continued with flashes of pace and set the overall fastest first section time so far this weekend, but could not string together a lap and wound up third ahead of David Coulthard in fourth.

Jenson Button's pace of the first session was not replicated in the second and while most of the top ten times markedly improved, Button's did not and as such the young Brit dropped to sixth. Williams-BMW team mate Ralf Schumacher was one such improvement and stayed fifth from the first session but moved ahead of the young Brit.

Giancarlo Fisichella remained just outside the top six in his Benetton, maintaining some desperately-needed momentum for the team. The same could not be said of Alex Wurz whose contract with the team has not been renewed for next year. The Austrian finished the session in last place and only completed a handful of laps throughout the morning as his B200 came to a halt at the side of the track during both sessions.

Jordan-Mugen Honda experienced an equally torrid morning as Jarno Trulli had only completed four laps midway through the second session. Once out on the track the Italian moved up from last to first 17th and then 12th where he remained till the chequered flag. Meanwhile team mate Frentzen had an off in the first session putting his EJ10 into the barrier at Parabolica. The accident destroyed the Jordan's front-left suspension and prevented the German from making it back onto the track in the second session.

The BAR-Hondas ran in formation as Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta finished eighth and ninth with Villeneuve unusually behind his Brazilian team mate. Eddie Irvine's Jaguar looked to be a handful as the Irishman repeatedly missed the all-new Rettifilo chicane. Irvine managed to put the R1 into the top 10 before coasting back to the pits with a mechanical problem a the end of the session.

Depsite the early promise of the Arrows team during Friday's sessions, Pedro de la Rosa and Jos Verstappen could only manage 17th and 18th respectively.

Ferrari have topped every session so far this weekend and look strong going into qualifying. Barrichello and particularly championship contender Schumacher will both be hoping to stay ahead of the McLarens on home soil and in front of the adoring Tifosi.

For full practice session 4 results, click here.

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