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Final practice - Alonso edges Hamilton in Germany 21 Jul 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 20 July 2012 McLaren's Lewis Hamilton flat spots his tyre as he knocks Fernando Alonso off the top spot Charles Pic has an air leak in his engine and the Marussia mechanics work against the clock to get the Frenchman out on track World champion Sebastian Vettel goes fastest in the Red Bull just ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado Heavy rain arrives at the end of the session with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso just pipping McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton renewed their old rivalry at Hockenheim on Saturday morning and were separated at the top of the timesheets by just 0.077s before the heavens opened in the final minutes and prevented any improvements.

Hamilton languished down in 18th place for a long time as Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and then Alonso set the pace, with brief interventions from Jean-Eric Vergne and Bruno Senna. Then the Englishman sprang to the top with 1m 16.091s before the Spaniard responded with 1m 16.014s. It appears that McLaren’s new upgrade package works on a dry track.

Behind them, Sergio Perez again underlined the speed of the Sauber C31 with a third fastest 1m 16.202s ahead of Raikkonen on 1m 16.238s, Mark Webber - who picks up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on his Red Bull prior to the session - on 1m 16.447s, Vettel on 1m 16.475s, Pastor Maldonado on 1m 16.664s, Felipe Massa on 1m 16.771s. Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 16.807s, Senna on 1m 16.930s, and Romain Grosjean on 1m 16.962s.

There were plenty of minor off-track moments even in the dry conditions, mostly in Turn 1, embracing Grosjean, Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Vergne, Timo Glock, Paul di Resta, Jenson Button, Senna, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vettel, Webber, Kobayashi and Massa. Nobody sustained any damage.

Hulkenberg was again the faster Force India pilot, with 1m 17.033s which left him 12th ahead of team mate di Resta on 1m 17.148s. Ricciardo was 14th on 1m 17.238s and Michael Schumacher was the only man to improve as a light shower fell with eight minutes left, vaulting to 15th on 1m 17.266s from 23rd. Vergne was 16th on 1m 17.419s and Rosberg 17th on 1m 17.491s.

Kovalainen led Caterham partner Vitaly Petrov in their usual 18th and 19th slots, with 1m 18.366s to 1m 18.818s. Pedro de la Rosa was a bit of a star for HRT with 1m 19.778s, then came the Marussias of Timo Glock and Charles Pic. The German recorded 1m 20.235s, the Frenchman 1m 20.318s. The latter, however, lost the bulk of the session as his MR-01 needed an unexpected engine change.

Narain Karthikeyan was 23rd on 1m 20.741s, while mechanical woes left Button in the garage after he’d got down to 1m 20.914s.

The final minutes of the hour-long session were lost as the rain came down in torrents, and it’s hard to see that drying out before qualifying which will thus present a conundrum for the teams. Do they set their car to run strongly in the wet for qualifying, or live with a lower downforce set-up in expectation of a dry race tomorrow?

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