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Barrichello beats Schumi in practice
June 19, 2004 20:10 IST
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello has sped out of Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher's shadow with the fastest lap in free practice for Sunday's US Grand Prix.
Barrichello, still searching for his first win of the year while the championship leader sets his sights on an eighth in nine starts, topped the timesheets in both sessions at The Brickyard on Friday.
The Brazilian's best lap, set in the afternoon, of one minute 10.365 seconds was more than a second inside Schumacher's 2003 race lap record of 1:11.473 and he said it had been a 'near perfect start to the weekend."
But he played down the significance of being fastest.
"It is a question of finding the right balance on the car and being comfortable with its handling," he said.
Schumacher, fourth fastest, was less happy on a hot and humid afternoon in Indiana.
"This was not an especially good Friday for me," he said. "For whatever reason, I could not get the car to work the way I would have liked when trying to push hard on just one opening lap.
"I am not particularly pleased with the result but we are on the pace and we will still be able to fight for pole position and the race win."
Briton Anthony Davidson, the BAR test driver who will not race on Sunday, was second fastest in 1:10.967 in another impressive performance at an unfamiliar track.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, a winner of the Indianapolis 500 at the famous oval circuit that forms part of the grand prix layout, bounced back from last Sunday's Canadian disqualification with the third best time for Williams.
BAR's Briton Jenson Button was fifth quickest.
Barrichello has a good record at Indianapolis, winning controversially two years ago when race leader Schumacher slowed in the final straight to allow his team mate to close up and instead ended up second.
The Brazilian is second in the championship, 16 points adrift of six times champion Schumacher and 10 clear of Button.
Both sessions were red-flagged, the second halted after a bizarre collision between BAR's Japanese driver Takuma Sato and Sauber's Brazilian Felipe Massa at the first corner.
"I knew Sato was some way behind me and he wasn't in my mirrors or alongside me when I looked before turning in as normal," said Massa.
"Then he hit me. I don't understand. This isn't a race today, it's just a practice session."
McLaren, suffering their worst season since team boss Ron Dennis took over in 1981, had another difficult afternoon with Briton David Coulthard pulling over early in the session and pushing his car clear.
"All of a sudden at turn eight the car just stopped and there was nothing I could do," said Coulthard.
The team blamed an electrical fault.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage