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Sutil quickest as conditions restrict running

NEWS STORY
02/10/2009

Ahead of today's second free practice session, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 23 degrees. Once again it is wet following a huge downpour almost halfway through the gap in between the two sessions. The rain has now eased off but such are the conditions - it is very dark with dense cloud - it is unlikely that we will see much action in the early stages of this session.

That said, as soon as the lights go green, the two Toro Rossos come out for a splash about. Such are the conditions, Alguersuari even has difficulty controlling his car in a straight line.

While the drivers and team crew talk and generally pass the time, in the grandstands the fans huddle together, rainwear pulled tight and umbrellas raised.

Every now and then an engine fires up, but just as quickly it dies away, and after half an hour the only action we've seen are those two installation laps from Buemi and Alguersuari. The rain is now falling noticeably harder and looking at the sky it appears to be set in for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless the enthusiasm of the fans in the stands remains undaunted.

In terms of wet and intermediate tyres, the teams are strictly limited as to how many sets they can use. Therefore, bearing in mind that we could be in for similar conditions tomorrow and Sunday, the teams are playing safe. This morning, towards the end of the session it was too dry for the intermediates but not dry enough for slicks. Consequently the inters were suffering, and how.

Coming up to half-time, we receive a text from Bob Constanduros. He writes: "Apparently this rain will last until this evening and then clear up tomorrow. Sunday will also be good and not too humid. Humidity is currently 97 per cent, due to the fact that we're drowning."

On the one hour mark, Fernando Alonso heads out of the Renault garage to test the waters, literally. Shortly after he is joined on track by Alguersuari.

At the end of his lap Alonso dives in to the pits, while Alguersuari continues around for another lap, albeit cautiously. "The rain is slower," he says, "but the rivers are longer".

The Spaniard posts the first time of the afternoon, crossing the line at 1:56.848. Elsewhere, Grosjean leaves the Renault garage.

Back in the pits, Alguersuari tells his crew of the "big river going into Turn 8".

Sixteen minutes remaining and Alonso heads down the pitlane once again, this time performing a practice start. At the end of the lap the Spaniard continues around, as teammate Grosjean heads down the pitlane, as does Heidfeld.

The two-time World Champion crosses the line at 48.693, with twelve minutes of the session remaining.

As Heidfeld begins his first flying lap, Nakajima leaves the pits followed, shortly afterwards, by Kobayashi and Rosberg.

Heidfeld posts 50.848 to go third as Trulli and Webber leave the pits.

With seven minutes remaining, Hamilton, Vettel and Kubica leave the pits. Conditions are still very difficult with nobody showing any sign of challenging Alonso's time.

Nakajima goes second with a 49.158, ahead of Grosjean, Heidfeld, Rosberg and Buemi. Fisichella, Sutil and Liuzzi head down the pitlane.

Trulli crosses the line at 48.821 to go second as Buemi improves to third. Webber goes fifth as Raikkonen leaves the pits.

Buemi goes quickest in the first sector as Trulli struggles to keep his Toyota on the track.

Nakajima goes quickest with a 48.058 only to be almost immediately leapfrogged by Hamilton with a 47.983 before he too is eclipsed by Sutil (47.261).

As the chequered flag is waved, all but Kovalainen, Button and Barrichello have posted a time, the three drivers opting not to come out.

A late attack sees Vettel - the new rain master - go second as Liuzzi takes third. Elsewhere, Raikkonen goes quickest in the final sector, eventually crossing the line at 48.886 to go eleventh.

The session ends with Sutil quickest, ahead of Vettel, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Nakajima, Buemi, Alonso, Trulli, Alguersuari and Kubica.

Alguersuari completed the most laps (11), ahead of Heidfeld (10) and Buemi (9).

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