McLaren turned the tables on Ferrari in a wet-but-rapidly-drying second practice session ahead of this weekend's title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, leaving their arch-rivals floundering in their wake.

Having sat out virtually the entire morning session, Fernando Alonso was the first of the big-hitters to take to the track, and the Spaniard immediately stamped his authority on proceedings by searing to the head of the timesheets. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton pipped him with half an hour gone, while Nick Heidfeld, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen also soon joined in to shuffle the reigning double world champion back down the pack.

To the delight of the hordes of partisan Brazilian fans crowding the Interlagos circuit, Massa nicked P1 halfway through the 90-minute session by a tenth of a second, with Renault's Heikki Kovalainen and Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard surprise interlopers up in the top three.

Following another pace-setting lap from Alonso, it was the turn of the BMW-Sauber twins to steal the limelight, with Heidfeld and Robert Kubica sitting one-two before the latter reversed the order by blowing them all out of the water with a time no one was able to beat for the best part of half an hour. The Pole - devastatingly fast in the middle sector - stubbornly held onto the position despite the dual McLaren onslaught behind him, but Hamilton and Alonso would not be denied.

With just over five minutes remaining and an effort more than three tenths clear of the field, Alonso must have thought he had it all sewn up, but Hamilton then sprung a late surprise to go almost half a second quicker again, leaving the best of the Ferraris more than a second in arrears and the really important one in terms of the championship fight - Raikkonen - almost a second-and-a-half off the pace in 13th.

Massa subsequently pulled a late lap out of the bag to split the McLarens and spare Maranello blushes. Alonso re-affirmed Woking's dominance shortly afterwards by taking the spot back again, while Raikkonen finally pieced a lap together of his own to move up to fourth, but was still more than three tenths of a second shy of Hamilton's pace.

So with Hamilton and Alonso leading the way - and just over a tenth of a second between them as the Brit plumped for Bridgestone's super-soft compound and his team-mate the slightly 'harder' option - and Ferrari three tenths back in third and fourth, Giancarlo Fisichella took an encouraging fifth place for Renault, confirming team-mate Kovalainen's earlier form, though the Finn would slip back to twelfth in the final reckoning.

Long-time pace-setter Kubica eventually wound up sixth, eight tenths off the pace, with Williams pairing Nico Rosberg and impressive debutant Kazuki Nakajima practically matching each other for times in seventh and eighth just ahead of Coulthard and Heidfeld.

Ralf Schumacher ended up eleventh - the Toyotas seemingly not so effective in the dry as they had been in the wet - with Honda duo Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button again displaying similar form to each other in 13th and 14th.

STR's Vitantonio Liuzzi was 15th ahead of a subdued Jarno Trulli, with earlier star Sebastian Vettel, Super Aguri's Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, Mark Webber and the Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto bringing up the rear.

To see the second session practice times in full,click here

 

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