Lewis Hamilton was unbeatable on day one of the Korean Grand Prix weekend, topping the time sheets in both sessions in his Mercedes while keeping him honest – and not that far off the top times – was Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
Hamilton was strong all day on hotlap pace and race pace, coming on the radio at one stage and praising the life left in his Pirelli tyres. The Briton, with a best time of 1.38.673, was the fastest of the quartet that emerged as the most likely to challenge for pole position, with Vettel next up, followed by Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber.
With a mere 0.171 of a second separating the top four, the scene is set for a Red Bull versus Mercedes shootout for pole, and perhaps even a battle for top honours on race day.
Hamilton was pleased after a day’s graft at the empty confines of the circuit near Mokpo, “It’s been a good day. I feel like I have a bit of a better foundation this weekend. I can’t remember the last time I had a really strong Friday.”
Vettel was also content and declared, “I am pretty happy. I think it will be very close this weekend with Mercedes.”
Felipe Massa emerged as best of the rest with the fifth best time, almost half a second down on Hamilton’s best, with Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso seventh after being baulked during his flying lap by traffic, according to his team.
Splitting the reds in sixth was Romain Grosjean who again is looking more comfortable, and faster, than Lotus teammate Kimi Raikkonen who walked away from a pretty heavy shunt at the very end of FP1. The Finn is again not looking very comfortable in the cockpit of the E21, and is at times ragged which is not his custom. He was eighth fastest, and a second down on the top time.
The McLaren crew spent a lot of time fussing over Jenson Button’s cockpit, after he set the ninth best time in the session, teammate Sergio Perez was 12th.
The Force India pair Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, who have their sights on beating McLaren, were 10th and 11th respectively, splitting their targeted rivals.
As the track rubbered-in the pace increased by about a second across the board, but once again the absence of spectators at the Korean International Circuit was blatant. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Korean grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 4 October 2013
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.781||0.108||30|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.844||0.171||35|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.006||1.333||34|
|11||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.007||1.334||34|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:42.461||3.788||36|