Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest lap-time of FP1 at the Korean Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has topped the timesheets at the end of the opening practice session for this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix at Yeongyam. The Englishman vaulted to the top of the session’s standings with his final lap of the 90-minute period, beating championship leader Fernando Alonso to top spot by three-tenths of a second.

With dry conditions greeting the field when the circuit opened for business this morning, the team used the session to run a host of development parts and fine-tune their set-ups ahead of the subsequent practice sessions and tomorrow’s all-important qualifying session.

While the field has very much directed most of its focus towards finalising the designs of their 2013 machinery, there’s still an important race in this year’s championship for Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship honours.

Lotus used the event to run their new Coandă-style exhaust system – a device which directs exhaust gases upwards from the rear of the car before they are deflected down towards the rear diffuser.

His Lotus E20 laden with sensors, Raikkonen was given the honours of trialling the team's Coanda-style exhaustKimi Raikkonen was given the honours of trialing the concept, while Romain Grosjean served as the ‘experimental control’ by running without he device. Ultimately, the Frenchman proved quicker by the tune of half a second, although it is expected that the team will conduct further analysis before making the decision to keep or ditch the device this weekend.

Four of the teams opted to run their reserve drivers in this session. As usual, Williams and Force India opted to run their respective reserve bench of Valtteri Bottas and Jules Bianchi (running in place of Nico Hulkenberg), while Caterham gave Dutch GP2 race-winner Giedo van der Garde another outing. HRT did the same for Spanish racer Dani Clos, who again drove in place of Narain Karthikeyan.

Down at Williams, the team examined the benefits of a new engine cover and floor design on Bottas’ Williams, opting to hold off on the redesign ahead of this afternoon’s session.

Alonso flat-spots a set of soft tyres when he locked upIn spite of the ‘green’ nature of the barely-used circuit, there were few major incidents to report. Alonso suffered a major lock-up during the session – badly flat-spotting his tyres in the process – as he tried to figure out a good set-up in his Ferrari.

Despite this, he finished the session second-quickest as he tries to avoid losing his slender four-point championship lead to Sebastian Vettel, who finished the session fifth-quickest behind Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.

2012 Korean Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:39.148   23
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:39.450 + 0.302 21
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.575 + 0.427 21
4. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:39.854 + 0.706 23
5. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:40.088 + 0.940 21
6. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:40.221 + 1.073 21
7. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:40.396 + 1.248 24
8. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:40.422 + 1.274 22
9. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:40.440 + 1.292 19
10. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:40.480 + 1.332 21
11. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:40.929 + 1.781 14
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:41.048 + 1.900 25
13. Jules Bianchi FRA Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:41.140 + 1.992 21
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.220 + 2.072 19
15. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.514 + 2.336 20
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:41.596 + 2.448 23
17. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:42.021 + 2.873 25
18. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:42.027 + 2.879 23
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:42.104 + 2.956 24
20. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:42.175 + 3.027 13
21. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:42.706 + 3.558 22
22. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT01 1:42.820 + 3.672 19
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:44.517 + 5.369 23
24. Dani Clos ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:45.735 + 6.587 22

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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.