Free Practice four: Schumacher shines

Michael Schumacher pulled a flying lap out of the bag during the final free practice session for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, to leapfrog to the top of the time sheets and put himself firmly as the man to beat in qualifying

Free Practice four: Schumacher shines

The German's pace was blistering around the 'point-and-squirt' Hungaroring circuit. The Ferrari team leader's fastest lap, set with 20 minutes of the session to go, was 0.63s faster than the top time of the previous session, set by team mate Rubens Barrichello, and the only lap of the day to enter the 1m17s bracket.

Barrichello did not improve on his time of 1m18.268s which had put the Brazilian top in the first session of the morning. David Coulthard however, did. The Scot muscled in between the Ferraris with a time of 1m18.025s, pushing Barrichello into third but still a clear half a second behind championship leader Schumacher.

Next up was Heinz-Harald Frentzen who would have been fastest by a country mile if pace were judged on effort alone. The German wrestled his twitchy Jordan Mugen-Honda through every corner setting the fourth fastest lap in a wake of dust and gravel. Ralf Schumacher pushed his countryman hard but had to settle for fifth, 0.019s shy of Frentzen's time.

Completing the top six was Mika Hakkinen who has been outpaced by McLaren-Mercedes team mate Coulthard in every session so far this weekend. The situation was the exact opposite going into qualifying at Hockenheim, with the world champion having gone quicker in every session - Coulthard took pole.

With teams finalising set-ups for qualifying and scrubbing in tyres, activity on the track was in short supply. Johnny Herbert took a trip through the gravel on the entrance to the downhill turn one. The Brit finished the session in 15th spot 0.2s behind an impressive Alesi in a still ill-handling Prost-Peugeot.

Less impressive however, were the Arrows who have shone in recent races but seem unable to find grip on the dusty Hungarian track. Dutchman Jos Verstappen was certainly flying but often sideways, leaving him with a time good enough only for 16th place. Team mate Pedro de La Rosa was only 0.143s behind with his A21 chassis suffering evident understeer.

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