Fernando Alonso maintained his position as fastest man around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course, despite running slower in the afternoon practice session that he had before lunch.

The Spaniard could not match the 1min 11.926secs effort he had posted in the opening 90-minute session of the United States Grand Prix weekend, but still managed to end the afternoon just over a tenth faster than his nearest opposition after carding a 1min 12.156secs best lap.

Behind the double world champion, the field packed into three tightly-matched groups, with Canadian GP winner Lewis Hamilton heading Alonso's pursuers, along with Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. The red cars were closer to the two McLarens in the session, a shorter track layout than most notwithstanding, with Massa, in particular, suggesting that there could be more of a battle this weekend than in either Monaco or Canada.

The man ousted from the leading group was BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld - although the German's earlier best would still have been good enough for third overall - and he headed the largest group on the timesheets. Although 0.870secs adrift of Alonso, Heidfeld headed an eleven-car train all within half a second of one another, with 16th fastest Alex Wurz - in his first outing of the weekend - only just missing out on inclusion. Behind the Austrian, the field remained well-matched, with 20th fastest Ralf Schumacher only a couple of tenths slower, while the two Spykers brought up the rear, unable to break the 1min 14secs barrier.

Heidfeld's rookie team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, found himself outside the top ten but was still only a couple of tenths from his fellow German as David Coulthard provided the greatest opposition to BMW Sauber from sixth spot. The Scot's Red Bull colleague, Mark Webber, trailed Vettel after gremlins again struck his RB3, allowing both Hondas into the top ten, along with Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn having hauled his Renault up from the depths of session one.

 

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