Fernando Alonso surprised the expected frontrunners to claim the fastest time of second free practice at Spa-Francorchamps, but cooler temperatures and the eventual onset of rain meant that few drivers actually improved on their morning times, leaving Ferrari to end the day first and second.

Although the rain was relatively fleeting, it did enough damage to warrant the middle of the session largely pointless in terms of fact-finding for the teams, and also proved costly for some as a proliferation of accidents saw several cars in need of attention well before the chequered flag.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen was the highest profile casualty, losing the rear of his Ferrari heading into the unnamed left-hander after Rivage, and breaking the rear wing off against the tyre barrier. As the Finn repaired to the pits, he trailed undisclosed fluids across the run-off area, and these eventually found their way onto the circuit, mixing with the already tricky surface and almost certainly causing the later downfalls of both Giancarlo Fisichella and Nelson Piquet Jr.

The Brazilian's accident, closer to the end of the 90-minute session, was a near carbon copy of Raikkonen's, but Fisichella's occurred slightly further around the lap, the Force India pilot having run though the remains on the world champion's incident. Fisichella was powerless to prevent his car rotating several times before backing into the barrier closer to Pouhon, and then rotating a couple of times more for good measure as it found the grass friction-free.

Debris from both Raikkonen and Fisichella's cars prompted race officials to throw the red flag, suspending proceedings for ten minutes, before allowing the field to at least try and approach their morning session times.

Through it all came Alonso, who posted a 1min 48.454secs best in the course of 21 laps either side of the interruption. The Spaniard was only three tenths slower than his morning time - which had left him fifth overall - but underlined the difficulty the entire field was having in getting down to their earlier mark.

In the end, only two drivers managed to improve on their morning efforts, with Nico Rosberg finding a couple of tenths - even if his position overall did not change - and Adrian Sutil climbing a couple of spots after swapping a 1min 50.1secs AM effort for a 1min 49.585secs lap after lunch. The Force India driver climbed to 14th as a result.

Behind Alonso, morning pacesetter Felipe Massa again proved to be on the money, setting second fastest time, albeit 1.3secs off his earlier target, while McLaren twins Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton again annexed top four positions. The two silver machines would be reversed on the overall list after Hamilton edged his Finnish team-mate in session one.

Hamilton had topped the timesheets for much of the afternoon session, but lost out as times began to improve and Alonso, Massa and Kovalainen all bettered his mark.

Raikkonen could only manage fifth in the afternoon session, his running limited to just ten laps, but his morning time continued to be good enough for second overall, as the four expected pacesetters did just that. Unable to break 1min 48secs in the afternoon, Alonso remained fifth fastest on the day.

Rosberg took sixth in the afternoon, ahead of countryman Sebastian Vettel, Sutil, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld, as the BMW Saubers again had to make do with positions on the fringe of the top ten. Second time around, Robert Kubica came off marginally worse to Heidfeld, but their places were reversed on the combined chart.

David Coulthard and Sebastien Bourdais both also came close to causing their teams extra overnight work which, in the Scot's case would not have gone down well as Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber had already booked his car in for attention after skating off at Rivage as the rain began. The Australian was slowest of all in the second session, having managed just seven laps to that point, but was still in the top ten overall.

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