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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 09:07 GMT
Schumacher hails new car
Six-time world champion Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher was delighted with the performance of his new car as Ferrari dominated practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher's team-mate, took second spot just 0.108 seconds behind the world champion.

"It doesn't look like a big revolution from the outside, but it's a good step forward and we're very happy straight out of the box," said Schumacher.

Renault's Jarno Trulli was third, almost a second behind Barrichello.

However, Schumacher suggested that Ferrari may not be as far ahead of the chasing pack as the times indicate despite the team setting the 10 fastest times of the day.

Under the current qualification system - a flying single lap on Saturday - Friday practice lap times could be an unreliable indicator.

Saturday is where the action really starts
McLaren's David Coulthard
"I don't believe what I'm seeing right now," said Schumacher.

"I don't believe the gap is that big."

Barrichello was equally pleased with the new car's set-up, hailing it as the best Ferrari he had ever driven.

Britain's Jenson Button was an encouraging fourth for BAR, matching Barrichello's 302kph as the day's fastest time.

"The car feels strong and we have some good tyre options so I'm feeling positive about the race debut," said Button.

McLaren were off the pace, with David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen back in eighth and 10th.

But Coulthard emphasised that the important times were those in Saturday's qualifying.

"Like the majority of teams we ran a limited amount of laps as a result of the one engine rule," he said.

"We went through our programme aimed at establishing where we are and we can now concentrate on Saturday, which is where the action really starts."

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