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Alonso tops second free practice in Belgium

india Updated: Sep 05, 2008 20:31 IST

AFP
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Two-times drivers world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso bounced back to the top of the Formula One timing screens on Friday.

The 2005 and 2006 champion clocked the fastest time for Renault in second free practice for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

On a rain and interruptions-hit afternoon at the majestic old Spa-Francorchamps track in the Belgian Ardennes, Alonso wound up fastest ahead of the morning session pace-setter Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari.

It was a stunning performance by the 27-year-old Spaniard from Oviedo as he rolled back the years to stun his rivals.

Massa, the man to beat in recent weeks, had to settle for second behind the Renault, but ahead of his championship rivals Finn Heikki Kovalainen and Briton Lewis Hamilton, who were third and fourth for McLaren Mercedes.

Massa's Ferrari team-mate and defending drivers world champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen, winner of the last three Belgian Grands Prix, ended up fifth.

Hamilton was quickest in the early rush, lapping in 1:48.805 to beat Massa by 0.033 seconds. Drizzle was starting at that time and, soon afterwards, the conditions became much worse with heavy rain. This caused the drivers to take refuge in their garages for half an hour.

Australian Mark Webber, however, was one driver who did not reach his garage - instead he took a soaking after sliding off the road at Rivage and burying his Red Bull car's left-front corner in the tyre barriers.

The rain soon passed, but conditions remained treacherous when the drivers returned to the track in earnest with just over half an hour remaining to try and clock improved times.

Raikkonen was first to get caught out, losing control and then crashing into the barriers in his Ferrari.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in his Force India car then spun on the fluids left behind on the circuit by Raikkonen's car and hit the barriers as well.

Brazilian Nelson Piquet in the second Renault also crashed and damaged his car's rear wing before the track began to dry and the times improved.

Kovalainen set a new session benchmark, beating Hamilton by 0.015 seconds, but Alonso was soon on top with 1:48.454 to grab first place.