SPIELBERG (Austria): World champion Michael Schumacher set a daunting pace yesterday as Ferrari dominated first qualifying for Sunday's Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.
Returning to the circuit where last season he won controversially to the sound of jeers and booing, Schumacher lapped in one minute 07.908 seconds.
The German's time was inside the 2002 pole of 1:08.082 set by Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello, who was 0.279 slower on Friday.
Barrichello, forced to move over at the final corner to allow Schumacher to win last year, was second quickest in a session that showed Ferrari's new F2003-GA car to be a cut above its rivals.
Australian Mark Webber, his contract renewed with Jaguar for another two years last week, was an impressive third quickest but still 0.604 slower than Schumacher.
The Honda-powered BARs showed strongly with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve fourth and Briton Jenson Button fifth.
Finland's championship leader Kimi Raikkonen was only eighth quickest for McLaren, who are three points clear of Ferrari in the standings after five rounds.
His British team mate David Coulthard was seventh behind the Williams of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.
Ralf Schumacher, gearing up for his and Michael's 100th start together, failed to set a time after spinning his Williams backwards into the gravel trap between the Goesser and Niki Lauda corners.
The session was halted briefly to remove the stranded car and the error meant that Austrian resident Ralf will be first on track in today's final and decisive session.
British rookie Ralph Firman, driving a Jordan, skidded across the line backwards in a shower of debris after running wide and smashing into the barriers on the finish straight. That crash also brought out the red flags. – Reuters
OFFICIAL PRACTICE TIMES
1. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:07.908, 2. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Ferrari 1:08.187, 3. Mark Webber (Aus) Jaguar-Cosworth 1:08.512, 4. Jacques Villeneuve (Can) BAR-Honda 1:08.680, 5. Jenson Button (Gbr) BAR-Honda 1:08.831, 6. Juan Pablo Montoya (Col) Williams-BMW 1:08.839, 7. David Coulthard (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 1:08.947, 8. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:08.978, 9. Antonio Pizzonia (Bra) Jaguar-Cosworth 1:09.024, 10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Jordan 1:09.281, 11. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Renault 1:09.450, 12. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Sauber-Petronas 1:09.479, 13. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:09.680, 14. Olivier Panis (Fra) Toyota 1:09.764, 15. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Ger) Sauber-Petronas 1:10.055, 16. Cristiano Da Matta (Bra) Toyota 1:10.370, 17. Jos Verstappen (Ned) Minardi 1:10.894, 18. Justin Wilson (Gbr) Minardi 1:11.056, 19. Ralph Firman (Gbr) Jordan 1:11.171, 20. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Williams-BMW (No time)