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Alonso adrift as Hamilton edges practice
Lewis Hamilton edged a four-driver scrap involving the McLaren and Red Bull pairings in first practice for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The leading quartet were covered by less than a tenth of a second around the undulating 4.3km Interlagos track, with Sao Paulo serving as a backdrop in the distance. Come the conclusion of the 90 minutes Hamilton, in his final race for McLaren before joining Mercedes next season, finished in one minute 14.131secs, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel hot on his heels.
Their team-mates in Mark Webber and Jenson Button were in very close attendance, the Australian 0.067secs adrift and Button 0.086secs down. As for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, 13 points behind Vettel in the standings, the 31-year-old Spaniard was fifth on the timesheet, a quarter of a second off the pace.
If this is an early indicator of the shape of things to come over the course of the weekend, then fifth on the grid in qualifying on Saturday is going to be the best Alonso can hope for.
Team-mate Felipe Massa, who has rediscovered his form of late, was sixth, half a second behind, followed by Lotus' Romain Grosjean and a more encouraging performance from Force India's Paul di Resta.
With just two points from his past five races, Di Resta has struggled with his car of late, but the Scot found himself just six tenths of a second behind Hamilton.
Williams' Pastor Maldonado, and Di Resta's team-mate Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10, with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher - the seven- times champion in his 308th and last race before he retires for a second time - 11th and just under a second down.
Sauber pairing Sergio Perez, in his final race for the team before filling Hamilton's seat at McLaren, and team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, seemingly out of a job given reserve Esteban Gutierrez will replace him next season, were 12th and 13th.
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who missed his media duties on Thursday after arriving back late from a short break in Los Angeles, was 1.5secs down in 16th.
Usual suspects Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan occupied the final two places on the timesheet for HRT, who potentially bow out after Sunday's race given their financial difficulties, the duo both just over 3.5secs adrift.