Prac 4: Schuey crashes

Rubens Barrichello delighted his home crowd by topping the final practice session before qualifying for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. But there was no joy for team-mate Michael Schumacher who crashed heavily towards the end of the session wrecking his car ahead of Saturday's two qualifying sessions

Prac 4: Schuey crashes

It is not clear if Schumacher suffered a mechanical failure or the accident, which occurred going into the Ferradura bend, was a result of driver error. It is thought that a problem occurred on the front right suspension of the German's F2004 as the wheel failed to make proper contact with the track.

Schumacher then locked up and was sent into a spin heavily hitting the tyre barriers backwards before the front of the car made contact. A brief flash fire followed, but it was quickly extinguished by the marshals. The bemused Schumacher, who had set the second quickest time of the session before the smash, was unharmed and carried out a quick inspection of the machine.

Following the session it was confirmed by the team that Schumacher would in fact use the spare car with a new engine in Saturday's qualifying. The German will be docked 10 places on the grid for Sunday's race as a result of the engine change (Click HERE for separate story).

Meanwhile, Barrichello, who has been the usual victim of bad luck at this circuit, is in prime position to take pole in qualifying later this afternoon after topping the final session, but he faces stiff competition from the McLaren duo of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard, who were third and fourth quickest respectively, less than two tenths of a second slower than the Brazilian.

Also in with a shout is BAR's Jenson Button who set the fifth quickest time, a quarter of a second down on the Ferrari while Fernando Alonso was sixth quickest in the Renault.

Despite their fine form in Friday's first practice session, Williams team-mates Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya have failed to shine since and were seventh and 11th respectively.

Sandwiched between them is the second BAR of Takuma Sato, Jaguar's Mark Webber and Sauber's Felipe Massa.

Having failed to set a time in Saturday's first practice session, Renault's Jacques Villeneuve completed 18 laps in the second session but could only manage the 12th quickest time, over a second off Barrichello's time.

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