F1: Hamilton quickest on the double in practice for Korean Grand Prix
Published 04/10/2013 | 08:51
LEWIS HAMILTON completed a practice double ahead of the Korean Grand Prix to raise his hopes of winning another race this season.
After setting the fastest lap in the opening session around the Korea International Circuit on the medium-compound tyres, Hamilton repeated the trick in the second 90-minute run on the supersofts.
On both occasions Hamilton had Sebastian Vettel in close attendance, suggesting the battle for pole position in qualifying will again be between the duo.
From 13 races so far this year only three drivers have sat on pole, with Hamilton and Vettel racking up five apiece, with the former's Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg claiming the other three.
Hamilton seemingly has the edge on this occasion, with his best lap of the day a one minute 38.673secs, finishing 0.108secs ahead of Red Bull's triple world champion Vettel.
With the Briton 91 points behind Vettel in the championship standings and seemingly out of the title race, Hamilton has made it his mission this season to win at least one more event to add to his lone success so far in Hungary.
At least Hamilton ended Vettel's domination of Fridays because for the first time in six grands prix the latter had to content himself with being second best at the end of the opening two sessions.
Certainly, it appears to be a Mercedes versus Red Bull shoot-out as the top four in both sessions came from the two teams.
The only change in the order from practice one to practice two saw Rosberg move ahead of Mark Webber as third quickest, the German 0.124secs off the pace and the Australian 0.171secs down.
The best of the rest was Ferrari's Felipe Massa, just under half a second behind Hamilton, followed closely by Lotus' Romain Grosjean.
The duo's more experienced team-mates in Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were seventh and eighth.
For Alonso, 60 points adrift of Vettel in the title race, the Spaniard will again be feeling a vast improvement is required if he is to have any hope of challenging the German in the race.
As for Raikkonen, he at least managed to get back out on track after giving his mechanics a tough lunch break by crunching into a tyre wall in the final minute of the first session.
After losing control of his car in the final corner, locking up and sliding sideways into the barrier, with typical Raikkonen understatement he radioed back to the team: "I hit a wall!"
McLaren's Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil completed the top 10, with the latter's Force India team-mate Paul Di Resta 11th quickest.
The Scot sat out the opening session in favour of reserve James Calado, but despite missing out on track time, Di Resta managed to finish one thousandth of a second behind Sutil, and 1.334secs behind Hamilton.
Max Chilton brought up the rear, finishing just under five seconds off the pace in his Marussia.
For the sprinkling of fans in the predominantly empty grandstands, they were treated at the start of FP1 and end of FP2 by displays from the Korean Air Force.