Hamilton takes fastest time off Alonso in first practice

2012 Korean Grand Prix first practice result

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Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in first practice with his final lap of the session.

Fernando Alonso led the way for much of the 90 minutes before Hamilton took over shortly before the chequered flag.

Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas was the first driver to set a lap time on a visibly dusty and gripless track. Some drivers complained of tyre graining as they struggled to find traction, and the likes of Red Bull didn’t take to the circuit until the second half of the session.

In the meantime several drivers were struggling to keep their cars on the track. Sergio Perez had a high-speed off at turn 11 when he ran wide onto the kerb, kicking up a lot of dust.

Several other drivers had minor off-track moments including Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa.

Alonso led the times for most of the session. A 1’39.857 put his Ferrari comfortably on top and it took a while for anyone to get within a second of his time: Nico Rosberg the first driver to do so.

The Red Bulls eventually took to the track and Mark Webber moved into second, but Alonso improved his time further with a 1’39.450. Hamilton got much closer, moving up to second, 0.025s off the Ferrari.

Alonso returned to the track for a final run but couldn’t improve after locking his front-right tyre at turn three. He then took a lot of kerb at turn 14 and caught a high-speed slide.

The track continued to improve until the dying moments of the session, Felipe Massa setting the fastest time in the first sector with six minutes to go on 18-lap-old tyres.

With less than four minutes to go Hamilton took the fastest time off Alonso, lapping in 1’39.280. He continued to improve up until his final lap, ending the session on 1’39.148.

As the session ended the Red Bull drivers had a near miss as Webber, on a flying lap, caught Sebastian Vettel at turn 14, and had to back off.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’39.148 23
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.450 0.302 21
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’39.575 0.427 21
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’39.854 0.706 23
5 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’40.088 0.940 21
6 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’40.221 1.073 21
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’40.396 1.248 24
8 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’40.422 1.274 22
9 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’40.440 1.292 19
10 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.480 1.332 21
11 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’40.929 1.781 14
12 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’41.048 1.900 25
13 12 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1’41.140 1.992 21
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.220 2.072 19
15 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.514 2.366 20
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.596 2.448 23
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.021 2.873 25
18 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’42.027 2.879 23
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’42.104 2.956 24
20 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.175 3.027 13
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.708 3.560 22
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’42.820 3.672 19
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’44.517 5.369 23
24 23 Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1’45.735 6.587 22

2012 Korean Grand Prix

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    32 comments on “Hamilton takes fastest time off Alonso in first practice”

    1. Good start from Mclaren and Ferrari guys. Still I fear boune back of Newey squad.

    2. Looks like the dire predictions for the championship fight might not be as doomy and gloomy as first thought. It’s only FP1, of course, but it’s pretty clear that Ferrari have not had the alarming slump in form that so many feared. And, in retrospect, Alonso’s difficulties in Japan were not really of his own making. By rights, he should have qualified on the second row, were it not for Raikkonen spinning, in which case he would have avoided contact on the first lap and would be enjoying a much bigger championship lead.

      1. Wishful thinking much? Would have been taken out by Grosjean instead of Webber :) Or by Vettel if he pulled the same thing he did on Kimi.

        1. If Alonso had started the race on the second row of the grid, it would have put Grosjean in sixth instead of fifth, which would have changed the start entirely since Grosjean’s problem was that he cut across the circuit and tried to dive down the inside of Webber. If he started on the side closer to the pit wall, he would have already been on the side that would allow him to aim down the inside. Alonso, meanwhile, would have been able to go around the outside of Webber at the start, so that even if Grosjean and Webber made contact, he would be unaffected.

          Also, with the start playing out the way it did, Alonso had the racing line going into the first corner. Raikkonen was in a position where he had to yield to other cars or hit them – there was no way he would have been able to driver around the outside of them through the first corner, because of its shape. He would have gotten to the second half of the turn and found himself out in the boondocks, trundling around until a gap in the traffic appeared and allowing him to merge back onto the racing line. Alonso’s retirement was the best thing that could have happened for Raikkonen’s start because he was so far off the line going into the first corner.

          1. Alonso himself set up whole situation. While both him and Kimi got similar start, he intentionally – constantly looking at the mirror – pushed Lotus on to the grass – /YOU HAVE ALWAYS LEAVE A SPACE – while having plenty of space on his right even before the corner.

            Frankly, how whole situation unfolded, your prediction of how it would have turned out for Alonso if he stated higher is faulty due to him overcommitment with Kimi, he might have done same thing with any other driver. He did get away easy in Monaco.

          2. @prisoner-monkeys
            Alonso caused the accident by himself, so it’s a bit far-fetched to blame Kimi’s qualifying spin for Alonso’s retirement. Alonso hit Kimi so he could’ve hit any other driver as well.

            There are so many variables in a Formula1 start that any change on the starting grid has a chance of affecting the outcome. But I don’t think it’s reasonable at all to start thinking these ‘what if’ scenarios.

      2. True, I’ve always felt people seem to swing to and fro far too easily on who is the “dominant” team at any given time.

        But, at the same time, with only a 4 point gap, Alonso essentially has to beat Vettel (ignoring any other potential challengers for now) over the remainder of the season. While he has been excellent this season and the car is not as bad as it once was, I don’t know if that’s possible when Red Bull seem to be hitting their stride, barring any more mistakes/DNFs.

    3. That’s scary that Hamilton was posting fastest laps at the end of a long stint. Hope he can drag himself back into contention for a good three way fight until the end.

      1. Too bad McLaren don’t share your optimism. Obviously Button needs points more than Lewis :)

        1. Haha, great!

        2. Yeah, check out Hamilton’s FP2 times.

      2. @theoddkiwi Massa was also able to improve on a sector time after a long stint. Looks like the dust is making the track a little softer!

    4. Conclusion after FP1: this track still looks as if it’s yet to be completed. What a dreadful sight…

      1. I wonder how much longer this venue will stay on the calendar. Two sponsors have dropped out, the F1 travelling circus don’t seem to like the area around the track, crowds seem to stay away, development of the surrounding area clearly hasn’t happened, other venues are trying to attract a race.

        1. yeah, I must say this one is in the lead to be dropped. South Korea’s a great place to visit, and is a powerful East Asian economy, but those things hardly resonate in its Grand Prix.

          1. I must say this one is in the lead to be dropped

            I think that’s a bit presumptuous. The race has a brand-new deal for this year – one that is much better form them than it has been in the past two years – so a lot of its future is going to hinge on how well this Grand Prix does. We can’t really say one way or the other at to what will happen with any degree of certainty until at least Monday.

      2. @fer-no65 – The Koreans seem to have given up on sinking any more money than they absolutely have to into the circuit. And with the circuit and the event running at such a substantial loss, who can blame them? It’s a wonder they haven’t backed out of the contract entirely by now. Sure, there will be some kind of financial penalty involved, but they might as well take the hit now rather than suffer the prolonged financial torture they’re going through now. No doubt they hope to minimise the losses over time and then start on rebuilding the project as originally intended, but that will probably be years in the making. In the meantime, the least they could do would be to run the short form of the circuit, which is made up of all the good corners (I kept the zig-zag at the start because it requires a very unusual, arrhythmic racing line to set a fast time) and might have some real character to it.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if the Korean Grand Prix is moved from KIC to the Autopia circuit – which is currently under construction for the reborn Asian Le Mans Series and is much, much closer to Seoul – in the future.

        1. If they jump ship now they might just bring forward future losses. Not that I’m an expert on Korean accounting law but it can happen in Aus law.

          1. If it’s under GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Prinicples – then yes, it can happen. Accounting is pretty much the same the world over.

            However, a lot of it would like hinge on the exact terms of the contract with FOM and the exit clauses.

        2. @prisoner-monkeys Not blaming the Koreans. Well, in part, I am blaming them for trying to build something spectacularly awesome that was waaaaaaaay too low in the “possible thing to happen” list. The whole “circuit within a city” was a horrible idea.

          But I’m not completely blaming them because we all know getting money, and organizing a sucessful Grand Prix doesn’t happen that often (if it happens at all).

          It’s just the look of the thing that annoys me the most, it’s a really horrible thing to see. And it’s sad, because some drivers think the track is actually pretty good.

    5. Anyone notice the on throttle traction control like noise on the McLaren’s?

      1. Interesting, it really does sound like TC, but I dont think it is, TRs and Caterhams had a simmilar sound on the Hungaroring.

      2. @stefmeister You’re not the only one. Anything else it could be? I can’t think how McLaren could possibly find a loophole that would allow them to use a pseudo-TC.

      3. @stefmeister @pielighter
        Ted said on Sky, that only 4 cylinders working mid corner, and thats causing the sound.

        1. @bag0 Oh yes, I remember now.

        2. Did he say why only 4 cylinders were working mid-corner? The G’s really that high?

          1. Intentional, to reduce torque and therefore wheelspin, but I thought that had been outlawed after RBRs torque maps were investigated.

            1. @hohum

              I think the main difference is, that the RB solution was using all cylinders, and decreased the torque by reducing RPM, while in this case, they are reducing the torque output by using less cylinders, but maintaining the same RPMs as before. And this might sound silly but I think its operated by steering angle, when the driver turns the wheel fully to either side, the noise kicks in, if it works like this, than its driver operated, and not aerodynamic element, thus legal. Of course it might be something else.

    6. @bago, Very clever of you to work that out, the things they spend money on!

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