Alonso tops Valencia second practice

Fernando Alonso delivered full value for money for the home crowd at Valencia as he went fastest in what for him was an eventful second European Grand Prix practice session

Alonso tops Valencia second practice

The Spaniard set the fastest lap of the weekend so far to go top, ahead of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, right at the end of a practice that he also caused an accident and had a spin in.

In an enthralling session that tipped in favour of one driver then the next for most of its 90 minutes, Alonso was the first to make a move for the front.

The Renault man's 1m41.861s was quickly improved to a 1m41.661s, which stood until the 30-minute mark.

At this point Williams drivers Kazuki Nakajima, and then Nico Rosberg, both moved ahead of the double world champion to lower the target to 1m41.588s.

Then Button had a crack and lowered it further to 1m41.534s.

With drivers up and down the field switching between super-soft and hard tyres as the track's grip improved almost by the lap, the world championship leader's time was never going to stand for long. And so it was that just after the halfway mark Rosberg moved to the front again with a super-soft-assisted 1m41.394s.

But almost immediately Alonso, then Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello and finally Button all reset the order with personal bests of their own.

By the turn of the hour, Alonso had moved back to the front again and the order was the Renault driver, followed by Barrichello, Button, Trulli, Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen.

Alonso's chances of staying in the fight then took a blow when he collided with Nick Heidfeld at the final corner.

Diving down the inside, the Renault flicked the BMW up in the air, triggering a return to the pits for both cars in an incident the German labelled "plain stupid".

Meanwhile Nakajima, then Rosberg, then Barrichello lowered the fastest lap time further to 1m40.209, which is where it stood with 10 minutes to go.

But not to be deterred, Alonso returned to the track complete with new front wing and a set of super-softs and promptly set the fastest lap of the weekend - 1m39.404s - with just two minutes to go.

Having delivered for his fans, Alonso went for it again, setting even faster splits in sectors one and two before spinning at Turn 17.

Button ended up second with Barrichello third, confirming that Brawn appears to have front-running pace this weekend. Rosberg was fourth ahead of Nakajima and the remarkable Adrian Sutil.

Both he and Force India team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella featured in the top 10 in the two Friday sessions and the Italian ended up eighth as well, indicating that the revised package has indeed improved the car.

Robert Kubica split the two Force Indias with his BMW in seventh, while Sebastian Vettel and Kovalainen completed the top 10.

Kimi Raikkonen was 11th for Ferrari ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota and Renault rookie Romain Grosjean.

Ferrari's Luca Badoer ended the day 18th - still some 2.6s away from the ultimate pace. And though he did set fastest speed times, unfortunately they were both in the pits costing him a total of 2,200 Euros.

World champion Lewis Hamilton was last after an early spin damaged his car, and McLaren took the opportunity to begin an early rebuild ahead of the weekend.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Alonso Renault (B) 1:39.404 33 2. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:40.178 +0.774 33 3. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:40.209 +0.805 34 4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:40.385 +0.981 39 5. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:40.503 +1.099 35 6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:40.596 +1.192 23 7. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:40.643 +1.239 34 8. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:40.681 +1.277 31 9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:40.723 +1.319 33 10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:40.738 +1.334 31 11. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:40.739 +1.335 39 12. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:40.770 +1.366 32 13. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:40.787 +1.383 35 14. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:40.956 +1.552 37 15. Glock Toyota (B) 1:40.985 +1.581 30 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:41.156 +1.752 34 17. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:41.350 +1.946 29 18. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:42.017 +2.613 37 19. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:42.089 +2.685 34 20. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:43.214 +3.810 3 All timing unofficial 
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