Vettel places his Red Bull Renault on top in Korean GP Friday practices

Sebastian Vettel is hot as he aims for his third consecutive FIA Formula One Championship title. On the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea, the German turned a lap of 1: 1m38.832. Second belonged to Mark Webber; missing his teammate’s hot lap by 0.032 of a second. Fernando Alonso was third best in his Scuderia Ferrari.

We’ll have a look where we can improve tonight.

Mark Webber

“All in all we can be quite happy, but I think it looks extremely tight,” said Vettel. “This afternoon it was quite slippery to start with, but then I think it got a little bit better so, all in all the car felt alright and now we see what we can do for tomorrow. I think we have to improve ourselves to match the others.”

The usual day for setup and practice fuel runs was on a dirty circuit as the dust in the air was settling on the track surface. Plus, of course, any off track excursions added to the dust. Basically today’s practices were one of the quietest ones of the season. Several did lock up at times, causing needed tyre changes.

Webber commented, “We had a pretty good program for today and I think both of us managed to get the most out of it. We’ll have a look where we can improve tonight in different areas; it’s always a compromise on a track like this with a bit of top speed in the first sector, then the last sector is pretty twisty in terms of rhythm.”

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

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Most of the second practice was a Red Bull show with Vettel and Webber trading the top spot. Behind them Alonso was moving up the time sheets but the Spaniard was more than three-tenths behind with his best at 1:39.160. Tomorrow morning the drivers will be preparing for qualifying, as they prepare to grab the pole position.

Not far off of the current points leader Alonso’s pace was another rival for the 2012 championship, Jenson Button. The Briton ended fourth with a 1:39.219 in his McLaren-Mercedes. Fifth went to Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher with his best lap of 1:39.330.

Felipe Massa, who continues to prove that he should remain with Ferrari, clocked a 1:39.422. Behind the Brazilian in seventh was Nico Rosberg; his best was a 1:39.584 for the Mercedes team.

Fastest man in the morning ended up having to pit with 3 minutes remaining on the clock for the afternoon session. Lewis Hamilton locked up his tyres and had to dive into the pits. "Right front destroyed," he said.

Hamilton ended up eighth in his McLaren-Mercedes with his best in the second practice at 1:39.717, nearly nine-tenths off the pace of Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 exhaust and rear wing detail
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 exhaust and rear wing detail

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Rounding out the top 10 were Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen. With his best lap of 1:39.739 in his Sahara Force India-Mercedes, Hulkenberg was a tad faster than the Finn. Raikkonen’s best in his Lotus-Renault was a 1:39.839.

Sitting in 11th was Romain Grosjean for the Lotus team with a lap of 1:39.957. With the upgrades to the E20, the team is looking for improved results. The main test concerns the new down-washed exhausts added for the Korean race after having successful wind tunnel tests.

Bruno Senna attempted to improve his time of 1:40.089 but he ended up taking his Williams-Renault for a spin in the closing minutes. Still he was 12th for the day.

Paul di Resta is still in the hunt for a possible ride with Ferrari if they elect to not renew with Massa. However he has to prove himself, and he placed 13th with a time of 1:40.112. However his Sahara Force India teammate was ninth fastest.

Both of the Sauber-Ferrari drivers did not shine today, and now Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez need to find what was missing today that put them down the timesheets. One of the reasons for Perez was his actuator became an issue. With their team principal Peter Sauber stepping aside to hand the position over to Monisha Kaltenborn, the boys will no doubt work with their engineers to chase for the pole tomorrow.

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham

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Another of the surprises today was Williams driver Pastor Maldonado who was slow in practice 2; ending up being off the pace in the afternoon to the two Toro Rosso-Ferraris. Both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo laid down faster laps.

Heikki Kovalainen was a tad quicker than his Russian teammate, Vitaly Petrov, for the Caterham-Renault team. Timo Glock and Charles Pic were trading times with the Caterham drivers. Glock ended the day ahead of his teammate for the Marussia-Cosworth team.

That left the two HRT-Cosworth drivers on the bottom with Narain Karthikeyan a bit faster than Pedro de la Rosa.

There will be one final practice prior to qualifying tomorrow. Of course the race on Sunday is the important part of the weekend, and many are crossing their fingers that the start does not again produce incidents. Hopefully those who believe they can win on the first lap will be realize that is not the case.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Mark Webber , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Narain Karthikeyan , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Peter Sauber , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Paul di Resta , Timo Glock , Pastor Maldonado , Sebastian Vettel , Bruno Senna , Kamui Kobayashi , Vitaly Petrov , Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez , Romain Grosjean , Daniel Ricciardo , Charles Pic , Jean-Eric Vergne
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams , Lotus F1 Team
Article type Practice report
Tags alonso, featured, korea, red bull, vettel, webber