Alonso's back in the old routine

Fernando Alonso topped his first free-practice session since the season-opener as McLaren dominated early proceedings in the build-up to tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso topped his first free-practice session since the season-opener as McLaren dominated early proceedings in the build-up to tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix.

Reigning two-time Formula One world champion Alonso led the way at the start of the year in Australia, blitzing the field in opening practice at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Since then he has watched the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, as well as team-mate Lewis Hamilton, top the timesheets in the nine intervening practice sessions.

At Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, British sensation Hamilton spearheaded a McLaren one-two in the first 90-minute run.

But it was Alonso - in front of his adoring home fans - who posted the fastest time of the day in the second session.

The 25-year-old Spaniard set a time of one minute 21.397 seconds for the reconfigured track that now boasts a new chicane.

Undoubtedly testing out their qualifying pace, the Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen were second and third, almost three tenths and six tenths of a second down respectively.

Massa was forced to settle for fourth and Raikkonen sixth as the Maranello duo sandwiched Hamilton, with the top six all within a second of one another.

With much expected of the Red Bulls this weekend after they showed exceptional speed in testing at this track last week, Mark Webber was ninth and David Coulthard 12th.

That was an improvement on their morning efforts as they languished in 16th and 17th respectively.

Jenson Button at least offered his beleagured Honda team some hope of improvement tomorrow following a wretched season to date.

After finishing 10th in the first session, Button followed up with 13th in the afternoon, on both occasions just over a second down.

Anthony Davidson, who had finished a surprising sixth - albeit on an apparently light fuel load in the first run - was a lowly 20th in the second, two seconds off the pace.

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