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