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Alonso fastest in second practice at Interlagos
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Alonso fastest in second practice at Interlagos
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Oct 2009   |  7:49 pm GMT  |  24 comments

Renault’s Fernando Alonso ended the second practice session fastest, on a chilly day at Interlagos.

Photo: Darren Heath

Alonso fastest. Photo: Darren Heath


The Spaniard, who had spent most of the session in the bottom half of the time sheets, clocked a time of 1m 12.314, 5/100ths of a second faster than last year’s pole time set by Felipe Massa. It is likely that the time, set at the end of the session, was done on low fuel and new tyres, as he often has on Fridays this season. Many of the front runners did not do low fuel runs at the end of the session.

Massa, who has dominated his home race for the last three years, watched the session on the Ferrari pit wall.

Sebastien Buemi was second, with Rubens Barrichello third. The Red Bull cars were fourth and seventh.

Jenson Button ended up 5th. Early on he was struggling with low tyre temperatures, a similar problem to the one which troubled him in the middle of the season. It was a chilly day, the air temperature just 18 degrees. The forecast is for rain showers this weekend.

The chilly conditions caused a lot of graining on the softer of the Bridgestone tyres and this will need to be watched over the weekend and may affect the tyre strategies for the race.

After several spins and a spectacular incident in the first session when Romain Grosjean demolished a marker board, the second session was low on incident. Giancarlo Fisichella stopped at the pit lane exit and stalled the Ferrari when he tried to do a practice start.

As always in Interlagos the field was extremely close; the whole field was separated by less than a second with the top 12 cars squeezed into half a second!

This will make qualifying very challenging indeed as a mistake worth a tenth or two could drop a driver five or six places on the grid. Button has not had a good time recently in qualifying and will have to be right on top of his game if he is to avoid giving himself another complicated Sunday afternoon.

Button can win the title on Sunday if he finishes in third place, regardless of what his rivals, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel do.

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24 Comments
  1. RacerFan78 says:

    Great analysis James, as usual I’d say. Until now Webber seems to have the upper hand over Vettel and Rubens over Button, so I think the stage is set for a great qualifying session tomorrow. Bring it on.

  2. Jason C says:

    I just can’t see Button getting up there on the podium, not with how fast his opponents are at the moment.

    It would be great to see a Barichello victory after all the appalling luck he’s had at the track. There would definately be tears!

    If it rains, though, all bets are off.

  3. Silverstoned says:

    > “It is likely that the time, set at the end of the session, was done on low fuel and new tyres” “as he often has on Fridays this season.” <

    James, could you do a spot on the pit birds? owls and waders seem to have the run of the place

  4. Craig Scott says:

    Although it seems as though it would be a relatively easy task (not that anything in F1 is actually easy!) for Button to attain a podium and wrap up the title this week end, if memory serves he’s only reached the podium on a single occasion in the second half of this season. Which is to say, judging by the prevailing trend, the odds don’t actually look that good for him. Add to that the inherent difficulty the Brawns seem to have with tire temps in the cold, and the fact that Barrichello is very adept in semi-wet conditions, and Button could have his work cut out for him. Another factor, of course, is the Red Bulls, which seem to go well in the wet.

  5. rpaco says:

    Did Ferrari have a problem with their KERS today? Maybe they should take it out of Fisi’s car and stick a battery in for the starter.

    I still stick with my original statement that Fisi was better off at Force India, he could have been impressing people had he stayed.

  6. Renault got Kubica but they should also consider a replacement for Grosjean. Haven’t looked into all the statistics but appears he’s not an improvement over Nelsinho.
    Ferrari was pretty disappointing too… Can’t wait for qualy.

    1. James Allen says:

      Grosjean has been a big disappointment for Renault. All the inexperienced young drivers have struggled with these 2009 cars

      1. Cliff says:

        James, hindsight is 20/20, but it does confirm what a stupid and pointless act the whole crashgate affair was. Grosjean has been no better than Piquet jnr. On a wider point, bearing in mind how the Roookies have performed especially on fly-away tracks, do you think that the teams & the FIA will rethink the testing ban? At some stage, simulators or not, other teams wishing to bring on new drivers will have similar problems.

      2. VicWeir says:

        I quite agree – bring back testing, not just good for rookies but for fans too!

    2. Patrickl says:

      At least it’s good they replaced Piquet so they could try Grosjean out before signing him for next year.

  7. JL says:

    Good for Alonso. Do the talking on the track…

    James, given the different interviews he has done this weekend, where every reporter has tried to pressure him to counter-attack Massa’s comments on Singapore and on his need to adapt to Ferrari rules, don’t you that think we are seeing a totally different Fernando from that of 2007? I see him much more focused, matured and confident.

    I would love to get an insight from you.

    Regarding the time table, I figure he was really light on fuel because that car seems completely undriveable and is probably right now one of the slowest on the grid.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes he’s more measured, but let’s wait and see how he is in the heat of battle, when he’s fighting for a championship. Then it will be more difficult for him to maintain self control and we’ll see how much he has matured

      1. Werewolf says:

        For any faults he may have, Alonso is an intelligent and extremely focussed (young) man. I cannot believe that, whatever the rights and wrongs, he has not learnt intellectually from McLaren 2007. The big test will be whether he has grown as a person sufficiently to capitalize on that experience.

    2. Patrickl says:

      Alonso still thinks that he can beat Massa easily. If that turns out not to be the case, shit will start hitting fans.

      AS Martin Whitmarsh said “I’m sure as long as Fernando is winning everything will be fine.”

  8. Werewolf says:

    Free practice and qualifying times have been amazingly close this year, which is terrific, but it highlights the big aerodynamic issues that prevent the cars actually running close together on race day.

    The potential is so clearly there to have an F1 with super-fast cars, perhaps with slightly slower cornering speeds, that can if properly legislated have the same gladiatorially combative closeness we experienced dogs (not old, you understand) enjoyed so much in the 1960s and early 1970s; and which certain young pups claim – absurdly in my view – makes the British Touring Car Championship better than the true pinnacle.

    What happened to the overtaking working groups and the aesthetically displeasing but possibly workable Central Downdraft Wing? With proper regulation F1 can have it all.

    1. Patrickl says:

      The OWG set out to allow cars to overtake if they were about a second faster than the car they were chasing.

      So, if the cars are really closely matched, then that will mean that they will not be able to overtake.

      Of course by now the effect of the OWG changes is largely ‘corrected’ by aero updates, so now it’s even worse.

    2. Patrickl says:

      Sorry, forgot a bit:

      “What happened to the overtaking working groups and the aesthetically displeasing but possibly workable Central Downdraft Wing? With proper regulation F1 can have it all.”

      How about this one:

      http://www.nextautos.com/geneva-2009-fioravanti-fl1-concept-extends-beyond-car-and-future-formula-one

      I think it looks stunning. Although not really like an F1 car.

  9. MikeW says:

    Quotes from the Brawn drivers state that Rubens was happier on the option, while Button was happier on the prime. I wonder how much the different behaviour of the tyres will pan out for the 2 Brawn contenders.

    Having said that, it sure looks like the Brawns have sufficient pace for getting the point they need for the WCC.

    1. MikeW says:

      Well, Rubens looks to be on a low-fuel strategy out front, but was lucky to get through to Q3.

      Appalling show from Button’s engineers to not get him onto inters though.

  10. P Byrne says:

    Re Alonso’s fast time – most likely fresh options and low fuel but…didn’t the mechanics spend a lot of time fiddlying with the weight ballast distribution during the session (and just prior to that run). Could be Fernando’s famous 4/10ths…

  11. Alexx says:

    Could this be Alonso rubbing Felipe’s nose in it at his home race, by being quickest, while Felipe sits on pitwall!

    Psychological warfare??

  12. Cliff says:

    James,
    Listening to the free practice sessions yesterday it looks like Mark Webber was ‘on the pace’ straight away. Do you think that RBR will send Webber out on light fuel during qualifying to control the race from the front?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think both Red Bulls will fight for pole today

      1. Brace says:

        wrong! :)

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