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26 Sep 2008

Practice Two - Alonso at the 11th hour

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the pace almost all the way through Friday evening’s second session of practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, only to be pipped at the post by his old adversary, Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton was deposed briefly by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, whose 1m 45.793s bettered the Englishman’s 1m 45.805s, then pushed ahead again with 1m 45.752s. That appeared to have settled the issue in McLaren’s favour, but right at the end Alonso took his Renault round in 1m 45.654s to beat him by 0.098s.

Hamilton remained fastest overall on the strength of the 1m 45.518s he recorded in the first session, but either way it was a great way to end a day on which Formula One made history by running under floodlights, and which was adjudged almost universally to be a tremendous success.

Heikki Kovalainen was right with the top three on 1m 45.797s in the second McLaren, but Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari was only seventh on 1m 46.580s. In between them came on-form Nico Rosberg in the Williams (1m 46.164s) and Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber (1m 46.384s).

Jenson Button’s strong form from the first session carried over when he took the eighth-fastest time for Honda with 1m 46.901s, ahead of Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima (1m 47.013s), and Toyota’s Timo Glock (1m 47.046s).

Outside the top 10, Mark Webber made up a little for his first-session gaffe with 1m 47.137s for Red Bull, chased by Renault’s Nelson Piquet (1m 47.145s), the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel (1m 47.300s) and Sebastien Bourdais (1m 47.487s), Red Bull’s David Coulthard (1m 47.640s), BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld (1m 47.760s) and Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 47.965s).

At the back, Rubens Barrichello was 18th for Honda on 1m 48.009s, ahead of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (1m 48.059s) and Force India’s Adrian Sutil (1m 48.311s).

Once again, there was plenty of action as drivers explored the limit of grip and/or coped with the bumps. Rosberg went down the escape road at Turn 18, as did Vettel and Nakajima (twice). The Monza winner also went up the escape road in Turn 7, as did Barrichello, while Piquet spun in Turn 16, Alonso missed the chicane, Heidfeld twice had a moment in Turn 2 and Bourdais went off the road in Turn 1 and later in Turn 18.

There was a moment of comedy when Massa got it wrong going into Turn 16 and headed down the escape road, where he appeared to become confused while trying to spin turn his Ferrari back on to the track.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008
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