Practice 3: Schuey's stunning pace

Michael Schumacher showed the awesome potential of Ferrari's F2002 in the third session of free practice in Austria today (Saturday). The world championship leader was six tenths up on team-mate Rubens Barrichello and a massive 1.5s ahead of his next nearest challenger, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen

Practice 3: Schuey's stunning pace

Once again temperatures were quite low (19 degrees Celsius) and this played into the hands of the Bridgestone runners. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Arrows) was fourth, Felipe Massa fifth and Nick Heidfeld (both Sauber) seventh. Just three Michelin cars made the top 10, with the second McLaren of David Coulthard sixth and Jenson Button's Renault ninth.

As usual it was a Minardi driver that had the honour of setting the first timed lap of the session, although Mark Webber's opening mark was soon beaten. Surprisingly, it was Michael Schumacher who was making the pace early on, the German completing a series of laps at the start of the session, which saw him whittle his best time down from an opening 1m13.496s to a 1m10.976s.

Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello then briefly moved to the top of the times, but he was quickly supplanted by the McLarens of first Raikkonen and then Coulthard. However, with 15 minutes remain Michael reappeared and instantly became the first driver to break into the 1m09s this weekend. A lap later he went under his 2001 pole time and guaranteed his position at the head of the timesheets.

Barrichello joined Schumacher in the 1m09s, but the championship leader managed to find another half a second, and a lap of 1m08s or possibly even 1m07s, will be needed to deny the Ferrari man pole position.

It was a remarkably incident-free session, with all the drivers keeping on the black stuff, although they continue to run well wide and off the traditional circuit through T1.

The Williams drivers will need to find some more speed if they're to be contenders this weekend. Juan Pablo Montoya was back in 12th this morning, 2.2s off Schumacher, while Ralf Schumacher was way down in 17th, a further 0.4s behind his team-mate.

Olivier Panis continued his recent strong form to finish up eighth quickest, but it was another disappointing session for Jacques Villeneuve, who was 18th ahead of only the Jaguars and Minardis.

For full practice session 3 results, click here.

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