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Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 17:08 UK

Alonso edges Hamilton in practice

Singapore Grand Prix
Qualifying: Saturday 1500 BST Race: Sunday 1300 BST
Coverage: Live on ITV1, text commentary on the BBC Sport website and commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live streamed on the BBC Sport website

Fernando Alonso during second practice around the floodlit streets of Singapore
Alonso left it to late too top second practice at the Singapore Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso's stunning drive saw him top the time charts in second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Renault driver left it late to deny Lewis Hamilton top spot, who had earlier set the day's fastest time.

Alonso clocked one minute 45.654 seconds to edge Hamilton by just 0.098secs, despite the Englishman leading for most of the session.

The day's first session saw Hamilton narrowly beat title rival Felipe Massa by just 0.080secs.

Ferrari's Massa finished third in second practice, while Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren and Williams' Nico Rosberg took fourth and fifth, respectively.

The rain and thunderstorms that had lashed Singapore on Friday morning abated for formula one's debut under floodlights and the action on the track lived up to the much-hyped billing.

BMW Sauber's Nico Rosberg set the early pace in the evening's second session, but Hamilton soon continued from where he had left off to go top on his third lap.

As the session drew to a close Massa briefly jumped above the 23-year-old, but a superb lap saw Hamilton regain his place at the top where he had looked set to finish for the second successive session.

However, Alonso had other ideas and improved from his seventh place in first practice to finish ahead of Hamilton and set the third fastest time of the day.

Hamilton said he found the new circuit challenging, but admitted he was amazed by the venue.

"It is a very physical circuit, more than I expected actually," he said.

"You need to put in a lot of work into the car to get a good lap.

"On my first proper run I managed to find a half-decent line. I was able to get more comfortable with the car.

"On first impressions there seems to be quite a lot of grip on the track so you can brake quite late in the slower corners.

"Through certain corners there were lots of bottoming and when you hit a bump it would throw the car about quite a bit. But it is an amazing venue."

Hamilton arrived in Singapore fresh from the disappointment of governing body the FIA rejecting his appeal against the penalty that deprived him of victory at the Belgian Grand Prix earlier this month.

He is just a point ahead of Massa going into Sunday's race but his driving during the first session made it clear just how determined he is to extend that lead this weekend.

The lighting is very good and it's a pretty good atmosphere. It's going to be a good show for the crowd on Sunday night

Mark Webber
Hamilton, sliding the McLaren aggressively around Singapore's wall-lined corners, remained top of the list for the majority of first practice, progressively lowering his times.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was the first driver to have a crash, catching a bump going in too fast at Turn 18, the corner after the track comes out from under a grandstand, just a few minutes into the session.

There were a number of spins and off-track moments but Honda's Rubens Barrichello was the only other driver to hit the wall, losing control at the final corner later in the session.

Race organizers made a late circuit change after drivers criticised some severe kerbs at Turn 10 that had the potential to damage cars that strayed onto it. Some concrete lumps were ground down to make the curbs more forgiving.

"The track is a bit too bumpy in places but you have to put up with that, it's the same for everyone," Webber told BBC Sport.

"The lighting is very good and it's a pretty good atmosphere. It's going to be a good show for the crowd on Sunday night.

"It's going to be very difficult to overtake on the track. It's a shame because street circuits are a lot more of a challenge for the drivers compared to a place like Bahrain which is not that difficult.

Lewis Hamilton during first practice at the Singapore Grand Prix
Hamilton was in impressive form during first practice in Singapore
"It's a difficult balance to get it right.

"We might need to move the pit lane entry a bit - with the white line filtering us in there's going to be quite a speed differential between the guys coming in and the guys still on the track.

"[There's] a little bit of detail here and there but once we get going in anger it's going to be a challenge.

"At Turn 10 - people are going to be giving that a bit of respect for a while. That wall is quite close so if you get it wrong you're going to go in there."

Meanwhile, Toyota driver Jarno Trulli was hit with a 8,000 fine for driving the wrong way around the circuit during the opening practice session.

The Italian spun coming out of the final corner, missing the pit lane entrance.

Rather than continuing down the start-finish straight, he drove a short distance in the wrong direction in order to get into the pits.

Results from first practice at Singapore Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes one minute 45.518 seconds
2 Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:45.598
3 K Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:45.961
4 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:46.463
5 Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:46.618
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota 1:46.710
7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:46.725
8. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:46.964
9. Nelson Piquet Jr (Brz) Renault 1:47.175
10. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:47.277
11. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.570
12. Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota 1:47.662
13. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 1:47.706
14. Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.097
15. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 1:48.517
16. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:48.725
17. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 1:48.839
18. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari 1:48.906
19. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:49.064
20. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:53.703

Results from second practice:
1. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault one minute 45.654 seconds
2. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:45.752
3. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:45.793
4. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren 1:45.797
5. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota 1:46.164
6. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:46.384
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:46.580
8. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:46.901
9. Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota 1:47.013
10. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 1:47.046
11. Mark Webber (Aus) RedBull-Renault 1:47.137
12. Nelson Piquet (Brz) Renault 1:47.145
13. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.300
14. Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.487
15. David Coulthard (GB) RedBull-Renault 1:47.640
16. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:47.760
17. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari 1:47.965
18. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:48.009
19. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:48.059
20. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 1:48.311

see also
Singapore GP build-up photos
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Ecclestone stalls India GP debut
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
F1 supremo plans Japan night race
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton calm ahead of F1 climax
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Coulthard wants Grand Prix points
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
F1 goes for a night on the town
25 Sep 08 |  Formula One

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