Michael Schumacher was quickest in the opening practice session at Korea 

Michael Schumacher has continued his ever-improving run of form by finishing on top of the timesheets in a rain-hit opening practice session for the Korean Grand Prix.

The Mercedes GP driver out-paced his compatriot and newly-crowned World Champion Sebastian Vettel by just fiver-hundredths of a second, while Adrian Sutil made is three Germans in the top-four with the fourth-fastest time, behind Force India team-mate Paul di Resta.

Aside from the initial installation laps, the track remained nearly abandoned for the first hour of the ninety-minute session, as drivers and teams limited their wet-weather running, hoping for the forecasted rain to ease.

Almost an hour passed before Lewis Hamilton kickstarted a sequence of half a dozen competitors getting some track mileage; the McLaren driver posted a seemingly-leisurely 2:03.391, which was soon beaten by Sébastien Buemi.

The Swiss driver’s time was eventually pipped by the Force India drivers with ten minutes to run.

Vettel then claimed top spot in the closing minutes, only to be bumped off the perch by Schumacher, who lapped the track with a 2:02.784.

Jean-Eric Vergne made his Grand Prix debut Behind the top-five were Kamui Kobayashi, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sergio Pérez and Mark Webber.

Only eighteen drivers attempted to post a lap time during the session, with both Renaults, both Ferraris and McLaren’s Jenson Button being among the high-profile drivers who opted for scarcely any running.

The session also saw the Grand Prix debut for Frenchman Jean–Éric Vergne, who took over Jaime Alguersuari’s seat in his first Friday practice outing. The Formula Renault 3.5 runner-up finished the session 13th-fastest.



2011 Korean Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Laps
1. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 2:02.784 10
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.056 8
3. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 0.128 12
4. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 0.357 12
5. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 0.398 9
6. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 0.508 13
7. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 0.607 6
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.527 12
9. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 2.013 8
10. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 2.399 5
11. Karun Chandhok IND Lotus Renault T128 + 3.566 11
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 4.068 11
13. Jean–Éric Vergne FRA Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 4.757 9
14. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 5.434 5
15. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 6.048 14
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 6.448 14
17. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 9.874 7
18. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 11.724 4
19. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia no time 1
20. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia no time 5
21. Bruno Senna BRZ Renault R31 no time 1
22. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 no time 1
23. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 no time 1
24. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 no time 1

[Image via LAT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.