Sat prac: Rubens in the rain

As the heavy rain clouds finally disappeared from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, a short but sweet 15-minutes of free practice was topped by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello in soaking wet conditions. Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni and Antonio Pizzonia of Williams both crashed in the curtailed session

Sat prac: Rubens in the rain

With the medical helicopter grounded by heavy cloud cover for much of the morning, the resultant delay meant that only 15 minutes of running was available. Bruni's crash curtailed the short session early as he lost control of his Minardi on the Raidillon crest that follows the daunting Eau Rouge compression.

Bruni grabbed an armful of right-hand lock, but couldn't stop his car spinning into the barriers on the inside of the circuit at high speed before rebounding across the track and ending up on the other side. He was uninjured.

Also in the tyre wall was Pizzonia, who slithered off at Rivage and damaged the left-front corner of his Williams. Olivier Panis also ran into the Rivage gravel, but was able to select reverse and perform a three-point turn, highlighting how much the gravel had been compacted by all that rain.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a superb 1m57.906s as his first flyer, although he was aided by a completely clear lap, vision-wise. That remained over a second clear of the opposition until Kimi Raikkonen popped in a 1m58.211s. Kimi then produced 1m57.975s, before Barrichello just squeezed in his 1m57.085s topper just before the red flags for Bruni's crash.

With Barrichello eight-tenths clear, and Schumacher and Raikkonen closely matched behind him, it was Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella who set the fourth quickest time in his Bridgestone-shod Sauber. He was backed up by team-mate Felipe Massa, who was sixth fastest behind McLaren's David Coulthard.

Jenson Button was seventh quickest for BAR-Honda, ahead of Jarno Trulli (Renault), Takuma Sato (BAR) and Fernando Alonso (Renault). Ricardo Zonta was 11th for Toyota, ahead of Jaguar duo Christian Klien and Mark Webber. Juan Pablo Montoya was down in 14th, with Williams team-mate Pizzonia 19th thanks to his off.

Olivier Panis (Toyota) headed the Cosworth-powered war, won by Nick Heidfeld ahead of Jordan team-mate Giorgio Pantano. Bruni was 18th fastest before his shunt, with Zsolt Baumgartner rounding out the field, over 12secs slower than Barrichello.

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