Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the Korean Grand Prix Friday practice so far during today’s second free practice session, running on Pirelli’s P Zero Red supersoft tyre. This has been nominated alongside the P Zero White medium compound: the same combination used in Singapore two weeks ago.
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Hamilton completed a clean sweep of both sessions at the Yeongam circuit, going fastest in the morning and on the P Zero White as he worked towards a race set-up. But it was his time in the afternoon, 1m38.673s, which proved to be quicker than anybody else could manage all day. Hamilton set his fastest time halfway through the afternoon session, with Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel going second-quickest, also on the supersoft compound.
Both sessions were held in warm and dry weather, with ambient temperatures peaking at 24 degrees centigrade. However, more mixed conditions are predicted for the rest of the weekend, which could lead to a wet race on Sunday.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said:
The teams already have a lot of data on the medium and supersoft from Singapore, but this circuit is a completely different proposition. The lateral energy loadings, in particular, are much higher, which makes the process of accurately reading the wear and degradation rates on differing fuel loads absolutely essential when it comes to formulating a strategy. The track was very ‘green’ at the start of free practice this morning, but this is what we expected, and it got quicker as more rubber was laid down. Despite the slippery surface, the teams didn’t encounter much graining, and there were no big surprises, generally speaking, which allowed everybody to get on with their programmes as anticipated.
We’re seeing a time difference of about a second between the two compounds, although we expect this to come down a bit tomorrow. So there is plenty of scopes to formulate some interesting strategies, but the big question mark will be surrounding the weather and safety cars. Some uncertain weather is expected over the remainder of the weekend, and Korea also has quite a high safety car probability, which can obviously change the race’s complexion. Under these variable circumstances, it’s always best to have as much information under your belt as possible, which is why the work done in free practice is so important.