Korean GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Four Korean Air Force jets (hopefully from South Korea and not North Korea) zoomed around in the skies above the track as the Free Practice 1 session began.
When the session was over, Lewis Hamilton had clocked the quickest time ‚Äì 1:39.630 ‚Äì in his Mercedes, beating out Red Bull's Mark Webber (1:39.816) and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg who set a 1:40.117.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius.)
Marussia reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzales, who was substituting for Jules Bianchi in FP1, was the first driver out on the 18-turn 3.489-mile (5.615-km) Yeongam circuit. Next out was Pastor Maldonado in his Williams.
Force India's reserve James Calado was in Paul di Resta's car.
It was business as usual with drivers going out to do an installation lap or two and then heading for the garages to have their cars checked over.
17 minutes into the session, Gonzales set the first flying lap time: 1:52.294. He was the only driver out on the track at this stage and on his next lap he turned a 1:49.169. Then he lowered that to 1:46.810.
21 minutes into the session, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) joined Gonzales out on the track.
Then Gonzales spun at Turn 13 and ripped off part of the nose of the car when it hit the wall. He got going again and pitted.
Vettel pitted as well without doing a flying lap.
Nobody wanted to go out. Lewis Hamilton sat in the Mercedes garage texting on his cell phone. Fernando Alonso relaxed on his comfy chair in the Ferrari garage. The marshals took advantage of the lull to sweep away the debris from Gonzales' track.
32 minutes into the session, McLaren teammates Sergio Perez and Jenson Button broke the silence. Calado joined them on the track.
Perez clocked a 1:44.258, and then a 1:42.922. Calado was second quickest with a 1:43.008.
39 minutes into the session, Perez lowered the mark to a 1:42.787 and then a 1:41.960. He then pitted.
A number of big guns remained in the pits including Red Bull's Vettel and Mark Webber, Ferrari's Alonso and Felipe Massa, and Mercedes' Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
When Massa did head out, 48 minutes into the session, the team radioed him to come back in because he his left front tire was punctured. The other main players were now in action but none had beaten Perez's time 50 minutes into the session. Then Rosberg turned a 1:41.498.
51 minutes into the session, Alonso beat that with a 1:41.437 while Hamilton had a quick spin at Turn 10 and nearly got hit by Webber.
54 minutes into the session, Rosberg went quickest only to be beaten by Vettel, but on his next lap Rosberg was back on top with a 1:40.364. He followed that with a 1:40.117 as Webber moved into second with a 1:40.346.
58 minutes into the session, Hamilton topped the times with a 1:39.630.
At the one hour mark, the top six were: Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus.)
The drivers were using Pirelli's medium compound slick with the white sidewalls.
Massa, meanwhile, was still in the pits and had completed only two laps. Gonzales was back in action in his repaired Marussia.
With 17 minutes remaining in the session, only four drivers were on the track. The top six was now: Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg, Button, Vettel and Alonso.
With 15 minutes remaining in the session, Massa got back out on the circuit. Others were out, too, but now their tires were at the end of their life so the lap times were not going get quicker. So it was just a matter of the teams and drivers doing homework as the session wound down. But Massa was on much newer tires and moved from last to 10th.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was out on the track except Gonzales.
And now some drivers were on new tires. Vettel moved into second place.
In the final seconds Raikkonen crashed heavily in the final turn. He walked away but the accident certainly was not going to help his already sore back.
The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Button, Alonso, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Perez and Massa.
Meanwhile the four Korean Air Force jets, hopefully from South Korea and not North Korea, had long since disappeared from the skies above the track.