Practice two - Alonso and Renault eclipse Ferrari 20 Jun 2008
France and Renault - what better than for Fernando Alonso to set the fastest time in Friday afternoon's second practice for the teams home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours? The Spaniard, running a fresh V8 after this morning's failure, whacked in the best lap towards the end of the hour and a half of running in overcast but dry and humid conditions, stopping the clocks in 1m 15.778s.
That displaced Felipe Massa, who had an adventurous afternoon which included two mighty, non-damaging offs and a lap of 1m 15.854s. That left him just ahead of Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 15.999s, McLarens Lewis Hamilton on 1m 16.232s and Sebastian Vettel on 1m 16.298s. The Englishman was another to explore the limits of grip, while the young German was very happy with the performance of his Toro Rosso.
Hot on their heels was Robert Kubica, who lapped his BMW Sauber in 1m 16.317s for sixth place, and McLarens Heikki Kovalainen, who was another to go off track, on 1m 16.340s. Nick Heidfeld took eighth for BMW Sauber with 1m 16.458s, ahead of Renaults Nelson Piquet (1m 16.543s); Red Bulls David Coulthard (1m 16.572s); Williams Nico Rosberg (1m 16.682s); Toyotas Jarno Trulli (1m 16.743s) and Toro Rossos Sebastien Bourdais (1m 16.758s).
Kazuki Nakajima just failed to break into the 1m 16s bracket, with 1m 17.002s for Williams, which was fractionally quicker than Timo Glocks 1m 17.092s for Toyota. Red Bulls Mark Webber was 16th on 1m 17.106s, followed by Jenson Button (1m 17.244s) in the Honda; the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 17.394s); Hondas Rubens Barrichello (1m 17.591s) and Adrian Sutil (1m 17.868s) in the second Force India car.
At the end of the session the FIA conducted a test to validate new safety car software. Once every car crossed the line after the end of P2 and taken the chequered flag, all of the marshals posts showed yellow flags and SC (safety car) boards, yellow lights were illuminated in the cars and the message Safety Car deployed was displayed on timing monitors. Within five seconds of the message being displayed all of the drivers were required to select the Safety Car Mode and then proceed to the pits, irrespective of their position on the track at the time. The test is believed to have been successful.