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