• Korean Grand Prix - FP1

Hamilton sets morning pace in Korea

ESPN Staff
October 12, 2012
Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time during Friday morning practice session for the Korean Grand Prix, setting his best lap on his final attempt as the track conditions improved over the 90 minutes.

Hamilton set a 1:39.148 on 22-lap-old tyres to go 0.302s faster than second place Fernando Alonso, who set his time roughly 20 minutes earlier in the session. Mark Webber, who continued to push even after the chequered flag, set the third fastest time ahead of Felipe Massa and Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

It was a relatively busy Friday morning in the pit lane, with both McLarens totting up early mileage to gather data on their latest updates. Ferrari continued to compare rear wings on its two cars, while Red Bull were a little less eager to get going but by the end of the session had completed over 20 laps with both cars.

The track was visibly dusty throughout the session and several drivers struggled for grip. Sergio Perez didn't help matters midway through the session when he got greedy with the apex at turn eight and dragged more dust onto the racing line, but he was immediately punished as his Sauber spat him wide and onto the run-off area. Several other drivers had similar skirmishes with the dusty outfield but no one troubled the barriers and damage was limited to sparks flying from the cars' undertrays as they rode the kerbs.

Alonso had one of the more dramatic moments of the session when he locked his front-right tyre at 200 mph under braking for turn three. The resulting flatspot sent visible vibrations through the car in left hand corners and he soon abandoned running in the session knowing he will have fresh sets of soft and super-soft tyres available for the afternoon.

In the bottom half of the top ten, the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were sixth and seventh ahead of the highest-placed Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Paul di Resta and Jenson Button rounded out the top ten, but the McLaren driver was 1.332s off his team-mate by the end of the session.

Kimi Raikkonen was 11th fastest after limited mileage with the new Coanda exhaust system on his Lotus. He completed 14 laps with the system, which other teams have struggled to perfect this season, on a circuit that he is completely new to having been out of the sport for the last two years.

© Press Association