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Lewis Hamilton's quest to keep himself in the title battle was bolstered after he set the pace in practice, but only just, for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday but it was Fernando Alonso who provided the entertainment.
The defending champion topped both the practice sessions, but was only less than a tenth quicker than his rivals on both occasions, with the gap to championship leader and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg only 0.030 seconds in the scorching afternoon heat.
Furthermore, the triple champion's top time in second practice was 0.376 seconds slower than the pace he set in the morning, when the top three times were quicker than the fastest time set later in the day.
"It's pretty tough out here physically right now with the heat as high as it is," Hamilton said. "Finding the right balance isn't easy either in these conditions as the tyres are getting really hot."
Temperatures are expected to drop for qualifying and the race, with chances of showers as well, suggesting the times and gaps wouldn't be representative as the weekend progresses particularly as it would likely ease excessive tyre degradation and blistering worries.
Rosberg can seal his maiden championship should he win the race on Sunday, regardless of where Hamilton finishes.
Williams was left "pleasantly surprised" as both its drivers were only behind the Mercedes duo - Valtteri Bottas ahead of local favourtie Felipe Massa - some half a second off the pace.
"I hope we can stay up there this weekend," said Massa, competing in front of his home fans for the last time. "It won’t be easy but I will definitely try!"
The Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen followed ahead of the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren's Jenson Button rounded up the top ten.
Alonso wins Brazilian GP
But it was Fernando Alonso who stole the show. His car developed an issue with the energy recovery system (ERS) an hour into the session and was promptly told to park his car. Once the stricken McLaren was pushed to safety by the marshals, the Spaniard watched proceedings from trackside.
He then went on to kill time by wandering about and kicking stones, before letting a cameraman hand him access to a television set and then briefly operated a trackside camera.
"Stop the weekend immediately," an amused Mercedes mentioned on its Twitter page. "Alonso has just won the Brazilian GP."