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Friday analysis - Silver Arrows on target 04 Oct 2013

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 The damaged car of Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21 is craned off the circuit at the end of the first practice session.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02 locks up his brakes entering the pit lane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013

The predictably ‘green’ track aside, near perfect conditions led to relatively uncomplicated practice sessions in Yeongam on Friday, enabling everyone to complete their day’s programmes ahead of Sunday’s 2013 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix. The early indications are that the Pirelli supersofts could suffer quite heavy degradation here, meaning race strategy will be key, and that Mercedes are quick enough to ensure Red Bull won’t have things all their own way. We take a team-by-team look at the first-day formbook…

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.630s, P1/1m 38.673s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.117s, P4/1m 38.797s, P3

Both drivers were happy, Hamilton extremely so after what he thought was his best FP2 of the season. There’s still some room for improvement, but the W04s appeared to be back on an even keel, and competitive with the Red Bulls.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 39.667s, P2/1m 38.781s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 39.816s, P3/1m 38.844s, P4

Neither driver had any problems, though Vettel also spoke of being able to improve tomorrow. Webber will be optimising his car for overtaking, bearing in mind his 10-place grid penalty after his ‘taxi drive’ indiscretion in Singapore.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 40.880s, P10/1m 39.114s, P5
Fernando Alonso, 1m 40.374s, P6/1m 39.444s, P7

Massa was happy to have a quick car beneath him in FP2, especially after losing a lot of running time in FP1 due to a puncture. Alonso sounded glum, and said that all the indications are that the Ferrari will be in its usual position in qualifying and that he will thus have to stage a bold fight to score well in the race.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 40.396s, P7/1m 39.226s, P6
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 40.677s, P8/1m 39.757s, P8

FP1 ended badly for Lotus when Raikkonen, in his own words, perhaps “ran out of talent”, in the final corners and did damage to the left suspension and the front and rear wings after sliding into the tyre wall. He got going in FP2, and while the short-run balance wasn’t perfect he was encouraged by his long-run pace. Grosjean, however, said he struggled in FP1 and that changes for FP2 didn’t work out all that well.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 40.215s, P5/1m 39.774s, P9
Sergio Perez, 1m 40.860s, P9/1m 40.152s, P12

Button said he was happy with the MP4-28’s pace in FP2, which was more representative than FP1 when the track had been very green. His main drama - which was very minor - was the need to tape the brake adjuster switch in position in the cockpit after it started adjusting itself. Perez likened his car’s performance to that in Singapore as he struggled to hone the balance, and suggested that if they scored points it would be a good result.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 41.432s, P12/1m 40.006s, P10
Paul di Resta (pm only), 1m 40.007s, P11
James Calado (am only), 1m 43.008s, P18

Sutil had understeer in FP1 and oversteer in FP2, while Di Resta said he got into the groove in his car straight away in FP2. Points look a possibility again, after their troubles since Germany. Calado did an excellent job in FP1, setting his fastest time early to run second to pacesetter Perez on 1m 42.825s, and later focused on race work.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 41.626s, P14/1m 40.186s, P13
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 40.899s, P11/1m 40.210s, P14

Both drivers were upbeat, though Hulkenberg said that his best run in FP2 was spoiled by traffic.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 41.924s, P15/1m 40.446s, P15
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 42.043s, P17/1m 40.552s, P16

Both cars lacked speed as Vergne and Ricciardo complained of poor balance.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 41.482s, P13/1m 41.117s, P17
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 42.002s, P16/1m 41.289s, P18

The FW35s were once again not quick enough, and both drivers struggled with the balance as they worked to make them more neutral.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 43.883s, P20/1m 42.461s, P19
Charles Pic, 1m 43.660s, P19/1m 42.798s, P20

Both drivers worked through balance issues in FP1 and made progress, but in the afternoon Van der Garde was happier with the way things went for him than was Pic, who said his car still had handling issues.

Marussia
Max Chilton, 1m 44.100s, P21/1m 43.441s, P22
Jules Bianchi (pm only), 1m 43.108s, P21
Rodolfo Gonzalez (am only), 1m 46.810s, P22

Chilton and Bianchi worked all day to get their MR02s balanced. Gonzalez worked down to 1m 46.810s before spinning Bianchi’s car in the morning and removing the nose and front wing.

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