Alonso quickest in wet warm up

Fernando Alonso emerged as the quickest driver in pre-qualifying warm up this morning in a frantic session marred by changeable weather conditions and a drying track.

The Spaniard vaulted to the top of the timesheets in the dying minutes of the session with a lap of 1m20.740, as twenty drivers bolted on slick tyres on a drying Silverstone circuit. The Renault driver was followed by Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen.

Heavy showers overnight and in the early hours of the morning left the Northamptonshire track wet and slippery for the crucial pre-qualifying warm up session with track temperatures bottoming out at 16 – 17 degrees.

A gaggle of cars streamed out onto the circuit in the opening minutes on the intermediate tyres and the lap times tumbled as the track conditions began to improve.

The Toyota, Renault and Toro Rosso drivers all held the top spot before Lewis Hamilton went quickest with a 1m 32.640 ahead of the Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

Light showers intervened twenty minutes into the session hampering the drivers’ laptimes, particularly in the second sector. But as the track dried Felipe Massa stormed to the top of the timings with a lap almost a second quicker than Hamilton (31.577).

David Coulthard set the quickest third sector time of anyone to go second fastest, while team-mate Webber also improved to fourth. Coulthard elected not to go out in the final minutes when the track was dry leaving him last at the end of the session.

Nick Heidfeld was the first man out on the grooved dry tyres with fifteen minutes of the session remaining. The German lapped a full four seconds quicker than Massa as a dry line around the 17-corner track emerged, paving the way for a frantic last quarter of an hour.

A flurry of activity saw the all the drivers set personal best sector times, the lap-times tumbling once again as more and more rubber was put down on the drying 5.141km circuit.

Raikkonen, Massa, Webber, Alonso, Piquet, Glock, and Vettel all vied for the top sport, before Heikki Kovalainen lapped quickest on the soft tyres with five minutes remaining. Lewis Hamilton was unable to match his team-mate and wound up fifth fastest, behind Sebastian Vettel, four tenths adrift.

Alonso then catapulted to the top spot with a 1m. 20.740 while Mark Webber went second quickest.

Piquet, Bourdais, Glock and Raikkonen were demoted to sixth, seventh eighth and ninth, while Honda’s Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top ten ahead of team-mate Jenson Button in eleventh.