Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso made the most of a drying circuit at Interlagos to ensure that McLaren took the early advantage ahead of the final round of the Formula 1 season in Brazil.

After seeing Ferrari lead the way during the opening free practice session, held in wet conditions at the Sao Paulo venue, Hamilton stormed to the fastest lap during the second session with a time of 1min 12.767secs - which put him just over a tenth of a second clear of team-mate Alonso ahead of the race weekend that could see him become F1's first rookie world champion.

Having never seen the Interlagos venue prior to the weekend, the second session also gave Hamilton vital time on track and he admitted it was good to have finally been able to experience the circuit.

"I enjoyed finally getting out on this amazing track, it was just a shame that the conditions were not great this morning, and we couldn't really do as much running as we would have preferred," he said. "However, it was good to get a feel for the track, and we made reasonable progress on the set-up work and tyre comparison despite the cold conditions."

Hamilton also escaped censure for a breach of the sporting regulations during his limited running in FP1 - when he used too many sets of wet Bridgestone tyres (see separate story).

For Alonso, the opening session was spent mainly in the garage after the Spaniard elected to complete only an installation lap in the wet conditions and failed to set a time as a result.

However, in the second session, the Spaniard wracked up 28 laps to jump up the timesheets.

"The session this afternoon was far better than this morning," the champion reflected. "We did not expect it to stay wet for the rest of the weekend so took the decision not to do any running in the morning as we wouldn't achieve any conclusive results on set-up and tyre comparison work. Also there is a new track surface here and as a result it was very slippery.

"However by this afternoon the track had dried out, and it was clear that the conditions were improving. I am looking forward to a competitive weekend."

 

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