Wednesday 24 January 2018

Red Bull firing on all cylinders to leave rivals in wake

David Tremayne

McLaren led the first practice session for the Korean Grand Prix, but by the end of the day Red Bull had risen to the top two positions with an inevitability that was reminiscent of their dominance in 2011.

Where Lewis Hamilton had looked comfortable heading the times in the first session, he was struggling in the second as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber waged war between themselves over the fastest time. Eventually Vettel pipped Webber by 0.032 seconds.

Hamilton was back in eighth place, with his fastest lap nearly 0.9 seconds slower than the Red Bulls. The Mercedes-bound Hamilton is 42 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso and 38 behind second-placed Vettel.

Though rivals tried to put a brave face on a crushing defeat by the Milton Keynes team in Japan, it is becoming increasingly obvious that revisions to the rear suspension have given Vettel and Webber a potent machine that now has excellent traction out of slow corners to add to some peerless aerodynamic performance in the fast corners.

The grandly named Korean International Circuit is a mixture of both.

Meanwhile, as Lotus confirmed that they will run their updated aerodynamic package after successful tests of a Coanda-effect exhaust system, their impetuous young driver Romain Grosjean knows that he could be running on borrowed time if he gets involved in another first-lap collision with a rival.

Condemned in Suzuka last week by Webber as "a first-lap nutcase" after he ran into the back of the Australian in the first corner, he has promised to clean up an act for which he has already received a one-race ban following a collision at the start of the Belgian GP. (© Independent News Service)

Korean Grand Prix, live, tomorrow, BBC1 / Setanta Ireland, 7.0am

Irish Independent

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