Alonso sets pace in final practice before the Sprint at Interlagos


Team Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was quickest in second and final practice for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, ahead of Max Verstappen with defending drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton fifth as he focused on long-run data gathering at Interlagos.

According to a report on Formula One’s official website, the talk of the paddock on Saturday morning was the on-going investigation of Hamilton’s DRS overtaking aid and Verstappen’s summons to the stewards for an alleged breach of the International Sporting Code.

Decisions on both were outstanding when second practice got under way, with Hamilton running a different rear wing, as the one he used to set the fastest time on Friday remained impounded by the FIA.

The seven-time world champion — who has a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Grand Prix anyway because of an engine change — didn’t head out on track until 20 minutes into the session, with team mate Valtteri Bottas following suit, the report said.

The Mercedes duo focused on running used soft tyres, allowing them to keep fresh sets of both the medium and hard for later in the weekend.

There were multiple approaches in play in second practice, with some teams running the car with lower fuel early on — such as Alonso — and others focusing on race simulations as they assessed with compound was best for the Sprint and then Sunday’s Grand Prix, the report said.

Alonso was 0.864s ahead of Verstappen, with Bottas third quickest in the warmest conditions teams have experienced so far in the Sao Paulo race weekend.

Esteban Ocon was fourth, ahead of Hamilton — who like Bottas ran just two sets of used tyres in this session — and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez in sixth.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was seventh, pipping the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc with Kimi Raikkonen completing the top 10.

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