YEONGAM, South Korea – Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team impressed Friday at the Korea Int’l Circuit by leading the opening pair of free practice sessions for the Korean Grand Prix.
Hamilton had the edge over the Red Bull pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber during the opening practice session. The Brit lapped the circuit in 1:39.630, which proved quick enough to withstand a very late challenge from Vettel, as the world champion clocked in at 1:39.667 to miss the top spot by .037 of a second. Mark Webber underlined the Red Bull threat with the third fastest time of 1:39.816.
Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button completed the top five in the first practice. Kimi Raikkonen, currently fourth in the championship standings, crashed heavily in the final corner late in the session.
Hamilton followed up leading the first session by topping the charts again in free practice two. The Mercedes driver’s best lap of 1:38.673 was .108s quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s effort of 1:38.781 for Red Bull, as both drivers trimmed their times by switching from the medium-compound Pirelli tires to the supersofts.
Rosberg, Webber and Felipe Massa completed the top five in the second session. The Lotus squad was able to repair Raikkonen’s car in time for free practice two, allowing the Finn to register the eighth fastest lap.