Red Bull leading after Friday practices for Korean Grand Prix
By Berthold Bouman
Red Bull Racing showed their strong form again at the Yeongam circuit today after the two Friday practices for the Korean Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1m38.832s, while Mark Webber was second just 0.032 seconds behind the German. In the morning Lewis Hamilton had set the fastest time for McLaren, but during the afternoon session he didn’t get any further than eighth place.
Hamilton was puzzled why he was much slower in the afternoon, and thought the car wasn’t balanced very well and he will try another set-up on Saturday morning during the third and final free practice session.
Also Ferrari seems to have found some extra speed in Korea, as Fernando Alonso was second in the morning and third in the afternoon, but the Spanish Ferrari driver was 0.328 seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel. His team colleague Felipe Massa was fourth in FP1 and sixth in FP2.
Both Mercedes drivers were also on the right pace as soon-to-retire Michael Schumacher was sixth and fifth, and Nico Rosberg took seventh place during both sessions today. Mercedes were a second off the pace in the morning session, but in the afternoon had reduced the gap to the leaders to half a second.
Next top team was Lotus, Romain Grosjean was the fastest Lotus driver in the morning and took eighth place, while Kimi Raikkonen, third in the Drivers’ Championship, was fastest in FP2 and took tenth place, 1.007 seconds slower than Vettel. Lotus has tested their Coandã-style exhaust system, but the team still has to make the final decision whether to use it during the rest of the weekend.
In FP1 Jules Bianchi took over the car from Nico Hulkenberg, and the young Force India test driver landed 13th place. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde took over from Vitaly Petrov in the first session, he was 22nd. More Friday morning drivers were on the list: Valtteri Bottas steered his Williams to 18th place, while Dani Clos was 24th and last for HRT.
Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest Force India driver today, he took ninth place with a lap of 1m39.739s, while Paul di Resta was 13th. Bruno Senna was the fastest Williams driver and took 12th place, his Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado was 18th with a time that was slower than his time during the morning session.
Sauber expects a good result this weekend, but Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez were during both sessions 14th and 15th respectively, very consistent — but will have to increase their pace to earn a spot in the top ten during tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest Toro Rosso driver in FP1 as he took 16th place and Jean-Eric Vergne was 17th, but in FP2 the roles were reversed, Vergne was 16th, while Ricciardo was 17th.
Finn Heikki Kovalainen was 19th for Caterham in FP2 after completing 33 laps, 2.770 seconds slower than Vettel, Vitaly Petrov was 22nd in the second Caterham. Marussia drivers Timo Glock and Charles Pic were 20th and 21st respectively. HRT were on 23rd and 24th spot, this time Narain Karthikeyan was faster than his team colleague Pedro de la Rosa who was 24th and last in FP2.