Schumacher Fastest in Practice 3 - Bahrain

World Champion Michael Schumacher finished more than a second clear of his closest rival Fernando Alonso as he left it late to top the times in Saturday morning's first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Schumacher Fastest in Practice 3 - Bahrain

Schumacher sat in the garage for all but a few minutes of the 45-minute session before setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a time of 1:30.552 to put smiles back on some worried Ferrari faces.

The German driver's teammate Rubens Barrichello, however, was forced to sit out the entire session following gearbox problems on Friday and the team are understood to be flying in a new gearbox for his car.

World Championship leader Fernando Alonso looked to be fastest in the session but his time of 1:31.811 was blitzed by Schumacher in the dying seconds and he had to settle for second.

Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa, preparing for his first race in a McLaren after replacing the injured Juan Pablo Montoya, finished third fastest but he was 2.214 seconds off the pace of the Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli finished fourth with Christian Klien, fifth for Red Bull Racing, splitting the Italian from his Toyota teammate Ralf Schumacher who finished the session in sixth place.

Giancarlo Fisichella finished seventh with Indian Narain Karthikeyan, of Jordan, finishing eighth, Williams driver Mark Webber ninth and Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard completing the top ten.

The session was slow to start and after ten minutes only Sauber driver Felipe Massa and Minardi driver Patrick Friesacher had set a lap time and just ten drivers had ventured out on the track.

There was little action as most drivers limited their running but Coulthard and BAR-Honda driver Jenson Button had minor offs at turn one, and Minardi driver Christijan Albers went off track and continued at turn ten.

With five minutes to go Trulli had moved to the top of the times with Ralf Schumacher making it a Toyota one-two and Fisichella third for Renault but Schumacher ensured the times tumbled as the session came to a close.

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time                  Laps
 1.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)  1:30.552                4
 2.  Alonso        Renault           (M)  1:31.811  +    1.259    6
 3.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:32.766  +    2.214    5
 4.  Trulli        Toyota            (M)  1:32.776  +    2.224    8
 5.  Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:32.841  +    2.289   10
 6.  R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M)  1:32.868  +    2.316   11
 7.  Fisichella    Renault           (M)  1:32.877  +    2.325    6
 8.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:32.999  +    2.447    8
 9.  Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)  1:33.276  +    2.724    4
10.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:33.606  +    3.054   10
11.  Button        BAR-Honda         (M)  1:33.683  +    3.131    6
12.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)  1:34.133  +    3.581    4
13.  Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)  1:34.163  +    3.611   12
14.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:34.232  +    3.680   10
15.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:34.392  +    3.840   10
16.  Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:35.464  +    4.912    6
17.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:36.561  +    6.009   15
18.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:37.445  +    6.893   13
19.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:37.949  +    7.397    5
20.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)  No Time                  

All timing unofficial
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