Alonso fastest on day of chaos at Canada GP

Montreal: Fernando Alonso played down his and Ferrari`s success in clocking the fastest practice time, but forecast a fun race for the fans in Sunday`s Canadian Grand Prix.

The 29-year-old Spaniard said he suspected that, despite appearances to the contrary during Friday`s chaotic incident and crash-hit day, champions Red Bull would end up quickest in qualifying and once again be the team to beat.

"We also topped the practice in Monaco and then in qualifying (Sebastian) Vettel was one second quicker than us," he said, issuing a warning to the legions of Ferrari fans who had packed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the day.

"We know tomorrow is the day to put everything into it and we know Red Bull will be very strong and probably the favourite.”

"Tomorrow it is supposed to rain and especially on Sunday -- so all the job we did today is maybe just for practice because everything can change for tomorrow. So, I think we will stay focused and get ready for a change - be ready for anything."

Alonso topped Friday`s times with a best lap of one minute and 15.107 seconds to pull three-tenths of a second clear of second-fastest Vettel, who bounced back from a heavy crash during the morning session.

The defending world champion`s crash caused the first of three red-flag interruptions to the day - when the session is stopped to clear debris from the circuit after an accident - but did little to hamper his speed or progress.

Alonso did his best to avoid raising hopes at a circuit where Ferrari are revered by the Canadian fans because of the history linking the Italian team with their traditional hero Gilles Villeneuve, father of 1997 world champion Jacques.

"We did not concentrate on the times or anything, so it is always positive to see yourself in the first four or five positions, but today is not really important," said Alonso.

On a day of four big accidents and three red flags, Alonso said he felt it was the challenging combination of the fast-wearing Pirelli tyres and the difficult Montreal track that created the incidents. He forecast more.

"At the end of the session you put on the super soft tyre -- and you`ve done already 30 to 40 laps of the track," he said. "So you try to be a little bit close to the walls to take a bit more kerb. But this is Canada - any little mistake puts you in the wall.”

"We see the accidents normally at the end of runs, when the tyres are already a little degraded.”

"We saw Vettel crash after a 12-lap run and these other cars were with old tyres. So we know the combination of Pirellis, which are not easy to drive when they degrade, plus the Canada circuit is a good combination - nice to watch, but a bit risky for us."

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerbs at the final chicane where he flew off into the `wall of champions`, so called because it has been the scene of accidents for an illustrious list of drivers.

He severely damaged the front right wheel of his car, but it was not to be a novel sight as Japanese Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber and Belgian Jerome D`Ambrosio of Virgin similarly damaged their machines in collisions with the barriers at turn four.

German Adrian Sutil of Force India also suffered a heavy collision, but like the others was able to walk away unhurt.

Alonso`s Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa was third-fastest, endorsing the competitive speed the team has on this circuit this weekend, ahead of the two McLarens of Britons Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, and Jenson Button, champion of 2009.

Another Briton rookie Paul di Resta of Force India was an impressive sixth ahead of Vettel`s Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber and Russian Vitaly Petrov of Renault.

German Nick Heidfeld was ninth behind Petrov in the second Renault and Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello 10th for Williams on a day when his former Ferrari partner seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher, 42, was left behind in 20th position for Mercedes.

Mexican rookie Sergio Perez, 21, who crashed heavily at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago, did 27 laps in the morning session, but then pulled out saying he felt unwell.

He had suffered severe concussion in Monte Carlo and the team decided not to take any risks with his health and promptly replaced him with McLaren`s test and reserve driver Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa in the afternoon.

Bureau Report

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