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Friday analysis - teams relishing Korean learning curve 22 Oct 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, Massimo Rivola (ITA) Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 (L to R): Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing with Lucas di Grassi (BRA) Virgin Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010

With a new track to get to grips with, the drivers enjoyed a challenging and largely productive first day in Korea, as the ‘green’ surface began to rapidly rubber in. As well as learning the ins and outs of the Yeongam circuit, they were tasked with maximising the set-up and balance of their cars ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session and the majority were pleased with their progress. We take a team-by-team look…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 42.202s, P7/1m 37.942s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 41.371s, P4/1m 39.204s, P7

An interesting day for Red Bull, as Webber survived a spin and then set the fastest time in Practice Two with the rear anti-rollbar of his RB6 disconnected because of handling issues. Vettel was fast in the morning but had to run the option Bridgestone tyres before the track was really ready for them in the afternoon after he’d picked up a puncture on the hard primes. Lots of potential here, though, as you’d expect.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 43.928s, P15/1m 38.132s, P2
Felipe Massa, 1m 43.054s, P12/1m 38.820s, P6

Ferrari struggled in the morning when the track was really slippery, but flew in the afternoon. Despite high tyre wear, Alonso believes Ferrari, like McLaren, can do “something interesting” here. Massa had lots of off-track moments in both sessions as he struggled to find a good set-up and to work the tyres effectively. He tried his car without the blown rear wing in the morning, but quickly decided it was essential.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 40.887s, P1/1m 38.279s, P3
Jenson Button, 1m 41.940s, P5/1m 38.726s, P5

Hamilton and Button spent the morning trying lots of new rear wings, and the MP4-25s look strong, especially in the first sector. Hamilton was very pleased with his car, while Button wasn’t much slower but lost time in the afternoon as an overheating problem was sorted out. They will be quick in qualifying.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 40.968s, P2/1m 38.718s, P4
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 42.896s, P11/1m 39.267s, P8

Once again Kubica was right up there now that Renault are over their mid-season slump. The Pole was very quick in the morning, and again in the afternoon, and neither he nor Petrov reported any problems.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 41.152s, P3/1m 39.268s, P9
Michael Schumacher, 1m 42.022s, P6/1m 39.598s, P12

Mercedes looked very good in the morning on a track on which Schumacher had said he expected the MGP W01 to go better. As the grip level rose, however, the cars slipped back.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 43.309s, P13/1m 39.564s, P10
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 42.293s, P8/1m 39.588s, P11

BMW Sauber again looked competitive as James Key’s influence continues to make itself felt. Kobayashi had lots of off-track moments but was quick, while Heidfeld was right with him and said he was learning a lot more about the Bridgestone slick tyres now. Both suffered serious tyre graining, however.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 42.883s, P10/1m 39.812s, P13
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 42.678s, P9/1m 40.478s, P16

Williams looked great in the morning when the grip level was at its lowest, but lost ground in the afternoon. Barrichello reported that he ran a high fuel load relatively early on, however, and said that his times thus weren’t necessarily representative in Practice Two. Hulkenberg was fast in Practice One but changes for Practice Two didn’t take the team in the right direction and he struggled.

Force India
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 44.887s, P17/1m 39.881s, P14
Adrian Sutil, 1m 43.602s, P14/1m 39.971s, P15

Liuzzi had a good day in his newly built-up chassis to replace the one written off by Massa in Suzuka. The Italian was very quick early on in Practice Two, but later spun and stopped on the circuit after a cracked exhaust had cooked, then broken, a rear suspension toe-in link. At least he had no F duct or brake problems this time. Sutil reported no problems.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 45.141s, P18/1m 40.578s, P17
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 43.940s, P16/1m 40.896s, P18

Alguersuari said Toro Rosso’s simulator run was the closest here that it’s been all season. Both drivers tried new parts in Practice One, and aside from a few off-road moments neither reported any problems.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 47.115s, P21/1m 42.773s, P19
Jarno Trulli, 1m 51.701s, P24/1m 42.801s, P20

Having been the first man in Practice One, Kovalainen ended the day very happy with the performance of his Lotus and the team’s direction for tomorrow. As the Finn had another trouble-free day, Trulli twice had gearbox problems but was right behind his team mate in Practice Two.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 45.588s, P19/1m 43.115s, P21
Lucas di Grassi (afternoon only), 1m 44.039s, P22
Jerome d’Ambrosio (morning only), 1m 46.613s, P20

Virgin were far and away the fastest new team in Practice One, but lost ground in the afternoon. Glock said he was unlucky with traffic on the option tyre, but was otherwise happy. Di Grassi was satisfied with his afternoon run, while d’Ambrosio rued clipping his front wing on the pit wall in the morning and thus having to use an older version for his run, but again impressed the team.

HRT
Sakon Yamamoto, 1m 50.347s, P22/1m 45.166s, P23
Bruno Senna, 1m 50.821s, P23/1m 46.649s, P24

HRT had a tough day, with Senna losing lot of track time with a suspension failure in the morning. Repairs limited him to one flying lap in the afternoon. Yamamoto spun in the afternoon and briefly brought out the red flag.

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