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Ferrari red hot in Bahrain

Alan Baldwin | April 02, 2004 18:20 IST

Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher set a red hot pace in the shimmering heat when Formula One drivers got to grips with Bahrain's desert circuit for the first time on Friday.

Hopes that Formula One's debut in the Middle East would narrow the gap between Ferrari and the rest looked little more than a mirage as the world champions again topped the timesheets.

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Six times champion Schumacher, winner of the season's first two races, lapped the Sakhir circuit in one minute 32.158 seconds with Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello second fastest in 1:32.651.

Britain's Anthony Davidson, the BAR test and reserve driver who will not race on Sunday, was the closest to them but still a hefty 0.8 of a second slower than Schumacher.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, second to Schumacher in the previous race in Malaysia, was fourth quickest with a time of 1:33.027. The rest were more than a second slower than the Ferraris.

Both the Williams drivers had minor incidents, Ralf Schumacher spinning at turn 13 after 21 minutes and Montoya running off at turn 10.

Briton Jenson Button, fresh from the first podium of his Formula One career in Malaysia, was fifth fastest.

Timo Glock claimed his own small piece of history. The Jordan reserve driver is allowed to practice on Friday under a new ruling this season allowing all but the top four teams to run three cars on the first day.

The German was first out of the pits at the start of the session, becoming the first driver to run on the circuit at a Grand Prix weekend.

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