Lewis Hamilton can rightfully claim the honour as the first man to go fastest of all in the opening practice session for this weekend’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix, held at the hurriedly-completed Yeongyam circuit.
The McLaren driver jest held off Robert Kubica for top honours, with the Renault driver just eight-hundredths of a second shy of the 2007 world Champion’s best effort. The pair was followed by Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, who all lapped within one second of Hamilton’s fastest time.
In fairness, the results from this session will not provide a great degree of insight into the form guide this weekend, with the circuit expected to grip up significantly as conditions improve with more running.
In the early stages, the drivers were extremely cautious on the unknown track surface, with many worried about the dust and slipperiness of the asphalt. Despite their concerns, no one actually landed up binning their cars into the barriers during the session, with only Bruno Senna providing the major moment when he arrived at Turn 9 with his left-rear suspension askew, spinning to a halt.
Kamui Kobayashi had a moment on the grass at pit entry, while Sebastian Vettel nearly collected Sakon Yamamoto at the final corner.
Jaime Alguersuari was the first driver to officially post a lap time – although Heikki Kovalainen ensured Lotus’ time-honoured tradition of being the first actually on-track – but it was a leisurely 2:20.611, which would turn out to be about forty seconds off the fastest time of the session.
Incredibly, it would take a little while for that time to be beaten, as several other drivers slowly toured the circuit, and as the times came down, the likes of Sakon Yamamoto, Michael Schumacher, Sébastien Buemi, Mark Webber, Nico Hülkenberg, Vettel, Button and Rosberg all enjoyed their respective moments at the top of the timesheets.
Button then eclipsed Rosberg once again to go quickest.
His best time – 1:40.887 – would prove over a second faster than his team-mate.
Robert Kubica then posted an impressive effort to just miss out on bumping Hamilton off the top spot, and late hot laps from Rosberg and Vettel bumped Button down to fifth.
Michael Schumacher stayed at the pointier end of the timesheets for much of the session, and wound up sixth-quickest, faster than the championship leader Mark Webber in the Red Bull. Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld finished eight-quickest, ahead of the Williams pair of Nico Hülkenberg and Rubens Barrichello, who completed the top-ten.
Languishing at the bottom of the timesheets was the perpetually unlucky Jarno Trulli, who lost precious running with a gearbox problem.
2010 Korean GP Practice 1 Session Times: