2012 Korean Grand Prix Free Practice Results

Both Vettel and Webber are at the top of the time sheet with Alonso in a close third followed by Button and Schumacher

by  Jim Davis  | 

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The Korean Grand Prix weekend got underway Friday at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam. Overall results were as expected. Red Bull looked strong, both Vettel and Webber are at the top of the time sheet. But, it won’t have escaped the attention of Sebastian Vettel that championship leader Fernando Alonso and hisFerrari were in the top three in both Yeongam sessions. After two sessions, Schumacher stayed close to teh leaders landing him in fifth position with teeammate not far behind in position 7.

Here is a rundown of the free practice team by team.

Red Bull

  • Sebastian Vettel, 1m 40.088s, P5/1m 38.832s, P1
  • Mark Webber, 1m 39.575s, P3/1m 38.864s, P2

Both drivers were very happy with the performance of their cars as they battled for fastest time in the afternoon. It seems that the rear-end changes introduced in Singapore have put the Red Bull RB8 on top again.

Ferrari

  • Fernando Alonso, 1m 39.450s, P2/1m 39.160s, P3
  • Felipe Massa, 1m 39.854s, P4/1m 39.422s, P6

Alonso said that Ferrari just got on with their programme all day without worrying what anyone else was up to. This included the usual Friday work and evaluation of some small update parts. Massa had a KERS problem after setting the initial pace in FP2, but generally sounded optimistic after his day’s work.

McLaren

  • Jenson Button, 1m 40.480s, P10/1m 39.219s, P4
  • Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.148s, P1/1m 39.717s, P8

Hamilton was very happy with his car in FP1 when he was fastest, but said he suffered from too much understeer in the afternoon as he struggled to go faster on the super-soft option Pirelli. Button said he feared that Red Bull’s four-tenths advantage was likely to stay for qualifying. There’s some set-up refinement work to be done overnight here.

Mercedes

  • Michael Schumacher, 1m 40.221s, P6/1m 39.330s, P5
  • Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.396s, P7/1m 39.584s, P7

Overall, a decent day for both drivers on a circuit to which the MGP W03 seems better suited.

Force India

  • Nico Hulkenberg (pm only), 1m 39.739s, P9
  • Paul di Resta, 1m 40.440s, P9/1m 40.112s, P13
  • Jules Bianchi (am only), 1m 41.140s, P13

All three drivers said they were reasonably happy with what they achieved during the day, though Di Resta insisted that his laps weren’t fully representative as he met traffic on both fast runs.

Lotus

  • Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 40.929s, P11/1m 39.839s, P10
  • Romain Grosjean, 1m 40.422s, P8/1m 39.957s, P11

Both drivers said their E20s were a handful, but the data indicated that the new aero package complete with Coanda-effect exhausts was behaving as expected so it will be retained for tomorrow.

Williams

  • Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 40.089s, P12
  • Pastor Maldonado, 1m 41.048s, P12/1m 41.200s, P18
  • Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 42.027s, P18

Senna’s was a good performance considering that he had to hand his car to Bottas in FP1, but Maldonado was hampered by an undisclosed car problem throughout FP2, so overall it wasn’t a particularly representative day for Williams.

Sauber

  • Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 41.220s, P14/1m 40.445s, P14
  • Sergio Perez 1m 41.514s, P15/1m 40.745s, P15

Sauber didn’t look as strong as they were in Suzuka, as Kobayashi struggled with poor balance on low fuel loads and Perez’s car coasted to a halt in FP2 with an engine management problem. The car was later retrieved, but the team weren’t able to get the Mexican back out before the session ended.

Toro Rosso

  • Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 42.021s, P17/1m 40.789s, P16

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 41.596s, P16/1m 40.997s, P17

Not too bad a first day for either driver, as Vergne celebrated his first anniversary as he started running the Friday morning sessions here last year, but Ricciardo said he met traffic on his two best laps on the super softs.

Caterham

  • Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 42.104s, P19/1m 41.602s, P19
  • Vitaly Petrov (pm only), 1m 43.067s, P22
  • Giedo van der Garde (am only), 1m 42.820s, P22

Kovalainen said he was very happy initially with his CT01′s balance, but in the afternoon he went off track and dislodged a couple of bolts in the cockpit which obliged the team to make a temporary fix to the seat so they could complete the program. Petrov inevitably struggled a bit after losing this morning session, when Van der Garde again ran and did a decent job to end up within seven-tenths of Kovalainen. The Russian’s programme was also interrupted when he sustained a puncture on his first set of super softs.

Marussia

  • Timo Glock, 1m 42.175s, P20/1m 42.596s, P20
  • Charles Pic, 1m 42.706s, P21/1m 43.066s, P21

After the upturn in speed in Suzuka, Glock was disappointed to find that his car’s rear-end nervousness had returned, making it a tough day in the office. Pic had similar problems, and will also incur a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change.

HRT

  • Narain Karthikeyan (pm only), 1m 43.869s, P23
  • Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 44.517s, P23/1m 44.533s, P24
  • Dani Clos (am only) 1m 45.735s, P24

Nothing major to report here, in what De la Rosa described as a ‘classic Friday’ as he learned the track. Karthikeyan lost the morning as Clos took his seat. The young Spaniard had a spin but otherwise again did a decent job.

A more in-depth look at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Team

Drivers Car No. Chassis No. Practice One Practice Two
Michael Schumacher 7 F1 W03 / 09 21 laps 1:40.221 P6 31 laps 1:39.330 P5
Nico Rosberg 8 F1 W03 / 07 24 laps 1:40.396 P7 36 laps 1:39.584 P7
Weather Cool
Temperatures Air: 17-21°C Track: 21-31°C

Michael Schumacher

I was pleased with both sessions today. As expected, it looks like our car is better suited to the circuit. The day went well, so I think we can get into the top ten tomorrow and plan our strategy on that basis. We have made some small changes, nothing major, and we looked ok on our long runs. Of course, I haven’t been able to study the times from the other teams yet, but we will try to secure a solid result this weekend.


Nico Rosberg

It was a good day for us and we made some progress over the two practice sessions. We had some small new things to try on the car which worked quite well, and we seem to be looking better here than in Suzuka. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing where we are compared to the other cars.


Ross Brawn

We’ve had a very solid Friday working through our planned programme and were able to complete a lot of running. The car seems reasonable on lower fuel levels, although there is still work to be done on high fuel. The grip evolves very rapidly here and I expect we will have a different track on Sunday to the one that we saw today, so we need to try and anticipate that. Overall it’s been a pretty reasonable day.


Norbert Haug

Two good sessions without interruptions for our team today. Michael and Nico did lots of laps in both sessions during which we ran through our planned programme. Without reading anything into our positions today, we have a decent base for tomorrow. With today’s data and the observations from the drivers, we will try and further improve our set-up for both qualifying and the race on Sunday.

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