NASCAR & Auto Racing

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton lead in practice ahead of Belgian Grand Prix

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – World champion Fernando Alonso was fastest during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix Friday. And yet, the Spaniard could not outpace controversy.

One day after his McLaren was fined $100 million and kicked out of the constructors’ championship in the F1 spy scandal, the sport’s governing body FIA published e-mails from Alonso that it said implicated him.

FIA quoted exchanges it said proved Alonso and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa were in unauthorized possession of secret technical information belonging to F1 rival Ferrari.

Those e-mails were part of the evidence that led to McLaren’s penalty.

On the 4.325-mile circuit Friday, Alonso drove his McLaren in 1 minute 46.654 seconds. He held .111 edge over teammate and standings leader Lewis Hamilton, who has not been implicated in the McLaren scandal.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was .299 behind and Kimi Raikkonen trailed by .512.

With Ferrari slowly fading, the question remains whether two-time champion Alonso or Hamilton will take the title over the last four races.

After winning the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, Alonso is on a roll. The Spaniard trails Hamilton by 92-89, compared to a 14-point gap after the French Grand Prix on July 11.

Raikkonen is in third place with 74 points and needs to repeat his 2005 win to stand a chance for the title.

The spy case broke in July when a 780-page technical dossier on Ferrari cars was found at the home of McLaren’s chief designer, Mike Coughlan, who was later suspended. Ferrari mechanic Nigel Stepney, who allegedly supplied the documents, was fired.