Alonso tops times in second practice

Fernando Alonso grabbed the top spot at the end of a rain and red flag-nterrupted Friday afternoon practice session at Spa

Alonso tops times in second practice

Morning pace-setter Felipe Massa (Ferrari) had to settle for second behind the Renault, ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton emerged fastest from the early scramble, lapping in 1:48.805 to beat Massa by 0.033 seconds. Drizzle was beginning by the time these laps were completed and the rain soon worsened, causing the field to shelter in the pits for the next 35 minutes.

Mark Webber didn't make it back to the garage, though, sliding off the road at Rivage and burying his Red Bull's left-front corner in the tyre barrier.

Although the rain soon passed, conditions remained treacherous when the drivers returned to the track in earnest with just over half an hour remaining.

Raikkonen was first to get caught out - losing control on the approach to the unnamed Turn 9 and spinning his Ferrari backwards into the barriers. The impact not only removed the car's rear wing, but it dislodged a large amount of water from the tyres, which was spread onto the edge of the circuit - possibly along with fluids from the damaged Ferrari - as Raikkonen dragged his car back to the pits.

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella then hit this surprise slippery patch on the exit kerbs and snapped into a spin, bouncing down the armco on the opposite side of the road, prompting a red flag while his battered car was retrieved and the Turn 9 wet patch attended to.

With Alonso also paying a visit to the gravel at Stavelot just before the stoppage, it was clear that the circuit wasn't ready for fast times on dry tyres yet, and his teammate Nelson Piquet proved that the circuit remained tricky even when the session resumed - replicating Raikkonen's Turn 9 crash after lightly brushing the kerb on the approach to the corner, leaving his Renault's rear wing dangling as well.

But by the closing minutes, the times finally began to fall again, with Nico Rosberg giving the first indication of the improved conditions by leaping from the midfield to the top six for Williams.

Kovalainen then set a new session benchmark, beating teammate Hamilton by 0.015 seconds. But his reign was brief, for Alonso then produced a 1:48.454 to grab first place despite being one of the few drivers on hard tyres at this stage.

Massa failed to beat Alonso's tail, and with drizzle starting to fall again, Alonso was able to hang on for the final two minutes and end practice at the head of the times.

Behind Alonso, the Ferraris and McLarens, Rosberg's late improvement was sufficient to keep him sixth at the end of the session.

Sebastian Vettel continued to shine with seventh for Toro Rosso, with his countryman Adrian Sutil taking his Force India to a magnificent eighth place with his final lap.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli and BMW's Nick Heidfeld completed the top ten, with the latter's teammate Robert Kubica only 11th. The Pole then hit trouble right at the end of the session when his BMW expired during the practice starts and had to be pushed off the grid.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time              Laps
 1.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:48.454            21
 2.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:48.504  + 0.050   15
 3.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:48.740  + 0.286   19
 4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:48.805  + 0.351   17
 5.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:49.328  + 0.874   10
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:49.405  + 0.951   17
 7.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:49.427  + 0.973   28
 8.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:49.585  + 1.131   22
 9.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:49.715  + 1.261   22
10.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:49.725  + 1.271   21
11.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:49.875  + 1.421   22
12.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:49.922  + 1.468   20
13.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:49.948  + 1.494   20
14.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:50.281  + 1.827   23
15.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:50.364  + 1.910   20
16.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:50.740  + 2.286   11
17.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:50.925  + 2.471   18
18.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:51.238  + 2.784   22
19.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:51.334  + 2.880   18
20.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:51.640  + 3.186    7

All Timing Unofficial

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