Alonso tops final practice in Brazil

Renault's Fernando Alonso overshadowed the championship combatants again in final practice at Interlagos, beating Lewis Hamilton into second place with his final lap

Alonso tops final practice in Brazil

Hamilton's McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen took third, with Felipe Massa (Ferrari) having to settle for fourth position.

The title rivals moved to the front as soon as they started their first runs, quickly pushing previous pace-setters Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) back to third and fourth.

Hamilton was immediately quicker than Massa, lapping in 1:12.278 compared to the Brazilian's 1:12.427.

But they then found it hard to improve on those times, both making minor errors in the middle sector on their next laps. Hamilton would improve his first sector time on a subsequent outing, only to lose nearly two seconds with another mistake in sector two, while Massa had fewer dramas on his next run but was still a few fractions slower than his earlier mark.

When they switched to soft tyres for the final qualifying simulations, it was McLaren who fared better. Kovalainen briefly went fastest, before Hamilton beat his time by 0.013 seconds, despite encountering traffic in the middle sector.

Massa was within a few thousandths of a second of Hamilton's pace for the first two-thirds of his own soft tyre lap, but lost out in the final sector - crossing the line exactly one tenth slower than his championship opponent.

But then in a repeat of yesterday afternoon's session, Alonso vaulted from the midfield with his last gasp low fuel run and outshone the title rivals. The Spaniard's 1:12.141 beat Hamilton by 0.071 seconds, pushing Kovalainen and Massa back to third and fourth.

Toro Rosso had a very strong session, challenging for the top six throughout and eventually taking fifth and seventh places with Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais. They were split by BMW's Nick Heidfeld.

Mark Webber took eighth for Red Bull, ahead of Nelson Piquet's Renault and Jarno Trulli's Toyota.

Raikkonen ended up only 12th in the second Ferrari, having failed to improve on his soft tyre run.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time              Laps
 1.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:12.141           19
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:12.212 + 0.071   18
 3.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:12.225 + 0.084   18
 4.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:12.312 + 0.171   17
 5.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:12.389 + 0.248   19
 6.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:12.402 + 0.261   19
 7.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:12.426 + 0.285   18
 8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:12.453 + 0.312   18
 9.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:12.457 + 0.316   24
10.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:12.457 + 0.316   19
11.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:12.625 + 0.484   16
12.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:12.698 + 0.557   18
13.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:12.712 + 0.571   22
14.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:12.971 + 0.830   22
15.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:13.054 + 0.913   19
16.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:13.058 + 0.917   22
17.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:13.135 + 0.994   24
18.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:13.278 + 1.137   23
19.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:13.460 + 1.319   22
20.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:13.680 + 1.539   22

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