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McLaren drivers fastest at Belgian GP free practice

9/14/2007

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- McLaren driver
Fernando Alonso had the fastest lap in free practice for the Belgian
Grand Prix on Friday after one of the darkest days in the team's
Formula One history.

Stripped of their 2007 constructors' points and fined $100
million by the F1 governing body FIA for a spying scandal on Thursday,
the former championship leaders did their talking on the track.

Alonso turned a fastest lap of 1 minute. 46.654
seconds. with series-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton second quickest.

Hamilton is three points ahead with four races remaining in
a drivers' championship that was not affected by Thursday's
verdict.

Brazilian Felipe Massa and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, whose
Ferrari team has effectively clinched the constructors'
championship with McLaren's elimination, were third and fourth
respectively in the afternoon session.

Alonso told reporters it had been a "normal Friday" as far
as he was concerned while Hamilton said the team was as
enthusiastic as ever.

"It's quite easy to focus," said Hamilton. "If anything it
may be harder for the team, but they're doing a great job. The
team have been through a lot this year but they are still
fighting.

"If anything, this makes us more determined," added
Hamilton. "We continue pushing and will try to win as many races
as possible."

Raikkonen, third in the championship and 18 points behind
Hamilton, had been quickest in the morning with a lap of
1:47.339.

The Finn will be chasing his third Belgian Grand Prix in a
row on Sunday after winning in 2004 and 2005 with McLaren. There
was no race at Spa last year due to promotional difficulties,
with the circuit having been upgraded in the meantime.

Hamilton was second in both sessions at the longest circuit
on the calendar.

Massa, whose title hopes took a battering when he retired
from last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, failed to set a time in
the opening session, running off into the gravel at Rivages
after just two laps.

The car nudged the tire barriers and came to a halt.

Germany's Adrian Sutil crashed his Spyker in the afternoon.