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Alonso tops times in second practice

Renault's Fernando Alonso snatched the top spot from Felipe Massa in the closing seconds of Friday afternoon practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, while the Ferrari driver's title rival Lewis Hamilton managed only ninth position

Jarno Trulli completed the top three for Toyota, ahead of Massa's teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

While Massa was a factor at the front throughout, Hamilton spent most of the afternoon around the foot of the top ten - lapping over half a second slower than his practice one pace and regularly locking wheels in the middle sector. He also failed to gain significant ground on the softer tyres, although the Briton switched compounds just as one of the light rain showers really took effect.

Massa hit the front for the first time after 12 minutes, but was only on top for a minute before his time was beaten by Trulli.

Both were then usurped by Nico Rosberg four minutes later as the Williams driver became one of the first to evaluate the soft tyres, with Trulli then following his example to reclaim first position shortly afterwards.

Ferrari preferred to stay on hard tyres for the time being, and a fresh set of these was sufficient to put Massa back in front with a 1:12.569 after half an hour. He then improved by a further 0.216 seconds when he tried the soft tyres on his next run.

The times subsequently stayed relatively static for the rest of the afternoon, as the ever-present drizzle increased and led to a number of wild slides as drivers scrambled for grip in the cold conditions.

Both Toyota drivers had quick spins, Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais had a number of excursions under braking for the Senna S, and Mark Webber managed to restrict his Red Bull to a high-speed half-spin after it snapped sideways under braking for the Descida do Lago.

By the closing minutes, the track had dried enough for times to start improving, and with 90 seconds remaining Alonso vaulted from a lowly 18th place to the top of the timing screens using soft tyres, with his teammate Nelson Piquet jumping from last to seventh at the same moment.

That pushed Massa and Trulli back to second and third, ahead of Raikkonen, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg fell to eighth at the end of the session, as Hamilton locked his brakes in the middle sector yet again on his final flying lap and ended the day ninth, ahead of Kazuki Nakajima (Williams). The Briton's McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen managed only 15th place.

Pos  Driver       Car                       Time               Laps
 1.  Alonso       Renault              (B)  1:12.296           43
 2.  Massa        Ferrari              (B)  1:12.353  + 0.057  41
 3.  Trulli       Toyota               (B)  1:12.435  + 0.139  44
 4.  Raikkonen    Ferrari              (B)  1:12.600  + 0.304  32
 5.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:12.650  + 0.354  45
 6.  Vettel       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:12.687  + 0.391  47
 7.  Piquet       Renault              (B)  1:12.703  + 0.407  44
 8.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:12.761  + 0.465  42
 9.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:12.827  + 0.531  33
10.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota      (B)  1:12.886  + 0.590  42
11.  Coulthard    Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:12.896  + 0.600  38
12.  Kubica       BMW Sauber           (B)  1:12.971  + 0.675  48
13.  Heidfeld     BMW Sauber           (B)  1:13.038  + 0.742  49
14.  Glock        Toyota               (B)  1:13.041  + 0.745  39
15.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:13.213  + 0.917  37
16.  Barrichello  Honda                (B)  1:13.221  + 0.925  39
17.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:13.273  + 0.977  41
18.  Button       Honda                (B)  1:13.341  + 1.045  49
19.  Sutil        Force India-Ferrari  (B)  1:13.428  + 1.132  32
20.  Fisichella   Force India-Ferrari  (B)  1:13.691  + 1.395  33

All timing unofficial

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