Alonso reigns in tricky Spa con­di­tions

Spa­niard posts quick­est lap times in prac­tice for Bel­gian Grand Prix

The Scotsman - - Sport Quiz - IaN ParkES

FER­NANDO Alonso proved to be a man for all sea­sons af­ter top­ping the timesheet in prac­tice for the Bel­gian Grand Prix in both the wet and dry.

the 90-minute morn­ing ses­sion was blighted by heavy rain and dark skies, the con­di­tions so bad that the For­mula BMW and GP2 prac­tice pe­ri­ods ei­ther side were red-flagged for be­ing too dan­ger­ous.

the rain did fi­nally ease off in the clos­ing min­utes, dur­ing which time Fer­rari star Alonso, who had been out in front any­way, ex­tended his ad­van­tage over McLaren’s Lewis Hamil­ton.

Al­though the seven-kilo­me­tre Spa cir­cuit was still hor­ri­bly wet, the dou­ble world cham­pion clocked a time just a frac­tion over two min­utes.

the rain then poured down dur­ing the two-and-a-half-hour in­ter­val be­fore giv­ing way for good shortly be­fore the start of the sec­ond ses­sion. As a dry line started to ma­te­ri­alise so the times tum­bled, with the lead chang­ing hands on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

With 16 min­utes re­main­ing Force In­dia’s Adrian Su­til was nar­rowly out in front, with Hamil­ton again sec­ond at the time. But then the ses­sion was red-flagged, with the mes­sage ap­pear­ing that there ‘may be spec­ta­tors in a dan­ger­ous area’.

It led to a hand­ful of tours of the track from the safety car to en­sure any fans who had wan­dered in­side the bar­ri­ers had es­caped the scene.

With four min­utes re­main­ing the track re­opened, with Alonso at the head of a queue of cars lined up in the pit lane. With a clear track in front of him the 29-year-old Spa­niard de­posed Su­til at the top of the stand­ings with a lap of one minute 49.032 sec­onds, 11 sec­onds faster than his morn­ing run in the wet.

It was the only sig­nif­i­cant change on the leader­board as Su­til and Hamil­ton fin­ished sec­ond and third, with Re­nault’s Robert Ku­bica in fourth, fol­lowed by the sec­ond Fer­rari of Felipe Massa.

Hamil­ton, the 2008 cham­pion, who is four points adrift of cur­rent cham­pi­onship leader Mark Web­ber with seven races re­main­ing, said: “to­day’s been pretty good. I have pos­i­tive feel­ings in the car and we are def­i­nitely mak­ing small steps for­ward. I do feel this track def­i­nitely suits the car a lit­tle bit bet­ter, it does feel quite good but we have only done a cou­ple of laps on dry tyres.”

Red Bull’s Se­bas­tian vet­tel and Jen­son But­ton in his McLaren were sixth and sev­enth, with the Saubers of Pe­dro De La Rosa and Ka­mui Kobayashi fea­tur­ing strongly as they were eighth and tenth.

On the oc­ca­sion of his 300th grand prix this week­end, 38year-old Rubens Bar­richello sand­wiched the Sauber duo, fin­ish­ing a sec­ond down on Alonso. the Mercedes pair­ing of Michael Schu­macher and Nico Ros­berg were 1.3secs adrift in 12th and 13th, whilst Red Bull’s Web­ber, who cel­e­brated his 34th birth­day yes­ter­day, was a lowly 18th and 2.6secs down.

the wet­ter con­di­tions at the start of the ses­sion had caused a de­gree of con­ster­na­tion, with vi­tan­to­nio Li­uzzi do­ing well to keep his en­gine run­ning af­ter slid­ing off track at the righthanded Paul Frere corner.

Li­uzzi then ran across the gravel, nudg­ing a tyre bar­rier with his front wing be­fore re­vers­ing out of his sit­u­a­tion and re­turn­ing to the garage for re­pairs that even­tu­ally saw him wind up 16th.

Li­uzzi’s mi­nor shunt had been pre­ceded a minute ear­lier by a heav­ier im­pact in­volv­ing vir­gin’s timo Glock as he slid side­ways into a tyre wall com­ing out of Ri­vage.

Glock ul­ti­mately fin­ished at the bot­tom of the timesheet, his time of 2:03.179 – 14 sec­onds down on Alonso – re­flec­tive of when con­di­tions were at their worst ear­lier in the ses­sion.

Pic­ture: AFP/Getty

timo glock’s Vir­gin car sits at the side of the track af­ter he crashed in prac­tice at Spa

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