Korea Practice 2: Hamilton owns day one with Vettel in pursuit

Lewis Hamilton topped the timing sheets in FP1 and FP2 in Korea

Lewis Hamilton topped the timing sheets in FP1 and FP2 in Korea

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.

Sebastian Vettel  second fastest in FP2

Sebastian Vettel second fastest in FP2

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.

Jenson Button

Jenson Button was ninth fastest in FP2

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.

Kimi Raikkonen recovered from an FP1 shunt to finish fastest

Kimi Raikkonen recovered from an FP1 shunt to finish eighth fastest

Korean grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 4 October 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.673 31
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.781 0.108 30
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.797 0.124 32
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.844 0.171 35
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:39.114 0.441 30
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:39.226 0.553 34
7 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:39.444 0.771 31
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:39.757 1.084 33
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.774 1.101 29
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
12 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.152 1.479 31
13 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:40.186 1.513 33
14 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:40.210 1.537 34
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:40.446 1.773 30
16 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:40.552 1.879 26
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:41.117 2.444 35
18 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:41.289 2.616 34
19 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:42.461 3.788 36
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:42.798 4.125 35
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:43.108 4.435 31
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:43.441 4.768 29
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