Korea Practice 1: Hamilton slightly faster than Red Bull duo as Raikkonen crashes

Lewis Hamilton during the opening free practice in Korea

Lewis Hamilton during the opening free practice in Korea

If the first free practice session of the Korean Grand Prix is an indicator, then Red Bull and Mercedes look likely to be slugging it out around the venue in Yeongam for top honours this weekend as Lewis Hamilton set the early pace by the slightest margin over Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

With a few minutes left in the session Kimi Raikkonen made a rare mistake and crashed into the barriers at the Turn 17 complex, seriously denting all four corners of his Lotus. The Finn, who nursed a back injury throughout the Singapore GP weekend, walked back to the pits apparently unaffected by the shunt.

At the sharp end Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg swapped places at the top of the timing screens. But at around the hour mark the Briton posted a time of 1.39.630 which was good enough for top spot, with Rosberg fourth fastest albeit 0.487 of a second down on his Mercedes teammate.

Sebastian Vettel was second fastest in FP1

Sebastian Vettel was second fastest in FP1

World Championship leader, and winner at the venue for the past two years, Vettel came closest to dislodging the Silver Arrows from top spot, but in the end fell short by a mere 0.037 with Webber a mere 0.149 of a second slower than his teammate.

Best of the rest, and somewhat surprisingly, was Jenson Button in the McLaren with the fifth fastest time and also racking up the most laps in the ninety minute session. Sergio Perez in the sister car was ninth on the timing sheets.

Fernando Alonso was sixth fastest in the Ferrari, 0.744 off Hamilton’s best with teammate Felipe Massa tenth best, but half a second down on the Spaniard.

Kimi Raikkonen's damaged Lotus is returned to the pits

Kimi Raikkonen’s damaged Lotus is returned to the pits

Up next were the Lotus pair in the long wheelbase version of the E21, which had been on ice since Monza where Lotus first ran it. For Korea at least, the team has reverted to the original, shorter model. Romain Grosjean was seventh fastest. Before his crash Raikkonen was ninth, where he remained until the chequered flag dropped to end the session.

There were a number of incidents during the session not helped by a dusty track and a very green surface, which turned Turn 10 into a tricky section which caught out several drivers including Hamilton.

Rodolfo Gonzalez, on duty for Marussia in the car of Jules Bianchi, spun and smacked the wall. He made it back to the pits where the team repaired the MR02 and the Venezuelan was back out on track in less than half an hour. He ended the session slowest of all.

James Calado was on duty for Force India in place of Paul di Resta. (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.


Rodolfo Gonzalez returns to the pits after crashing his Marussia in FP1

Rodolfo Gonzalez returns to the pits after crashing the Marussia in FP1

Korean Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 4 October 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.630 20
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.667 0.037 20
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.816 0.186 19
4 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.117 0.487 20
5 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.215 0.585 22
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.374 0.744 18
7 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:40.396 0.766 19
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:40.677 1.047 15
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.860 1.230 20
10 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.880 1.250 13
11 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:40.899 1.269 20
12 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:41.432 1.802 18
13 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:41.482 1.852 22
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.626 1.996 21
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:41.924 2.294 19
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:42.002 2.372 20
17 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:42.043 2.413 18
18 14 James Calado Force India-Mercedes 1:43.008 3.378 21
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:43.660 4.030 20
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:43.883 4.253 19
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:44.100 4.470 14
22 22 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1:46.810 7.180 10
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