Practice 2: Schuey lowers benchmark

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher redressed the balance in the second hour of free practice ahead of Sunday's German Grand Prix at the new-look Hockenheim. He turned the tables on opening session pacesetter Rubens Barrichello by just over a tenth of a second

Practice 2: Schuey lowers benchmark

Once again the Ferraris were unchallenged at the head of the times, but unlike the first session the chasing pack were much closer, and Kimi Raikkonen was less than a tenth slower than Barrichello in third.

After his below-par first session, David Coulthard improved to grab fourth, while Ralf Schumacher had a couple of spins on his way to fifth. Eddie Irvine continued Jaguar's dramatically improved form to end the session sixth, just ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya.

The 'green' track surface contributed to a host of drivers spinning or running wide and bouncing across the gravel. The session was barely five minutes old when Takuma Sato lost the rear of his Jordan as he braked for the tight hairpin.

The man rivalling the Japanese for the most spins of the year, Alex Yoong, didn't take long to reply, but unlike Sato Yoong could not continue as his Minardi was beached on the kerbs and the marshals were unable/unwilling to push it off.

Jacques Villeneuve, Coulthard and Montoya proved that mistakes were not confined to the rookies and all three removed barge boards from the side of their cars as they ran wide and over the gravel.

For the second time today Michael Schumacher spun, but a harmless pirouette barely interrupted his running. In contrast, Jarno Trulli was forced to sit out the majority of the hour after losing control of his Renault and spinning into the gravel where he became stuck.

Olivier Panis was unable to defend his third spot from the first session after his BAR expired on track with a suspected clutch failure and he slipped down the order to an eventual 12th. Giancarlo Fisichella's session also ended prematurely, although there was only three minutes remaining when the Honda V10 in the back on his Jordan gave up the ghost, leaving a trail of oil through the first turn, which effectively prevented any other driver from improving.

Felipe Massa had many wild moments throughout the session and a broken nose cone, but was also very competitive and set the eighth best time, just ahead of Allan McNish who was an encouraging ninth. Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded out the top 10 for Arrows.

"Today was very good everything we did made the car go faster so I'm looking forward to tomorrow," said McNish.

After suffering a blown engine in the first session, Pedro de la Rosa had just 15 minutes running in the second hour, but he managed to improve his time and moved up the order to 15th. But it was a terrible session for Renault, and both Trulli and Jenson Button fought an ill-handling car and this was reflected in their 19th and 20th positions in the times, with Button slightly the quicker.

"We're really struggling with grip and balance," said Renault's engineering boss Pat Symonds. "We've got lots of understeer too. Basically, the circuit is not behaving as we expected it to from our computer simulations, but we'll be okay tomorrow."

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