Mark Webber is optimistic about his chances of adding another win to his tally this weekend, after setting the fastest time in Friday Practice at the new Korean International Circuit. Coincidentally, his lap time of 1:37.942 was two-tenths faster than that of his nearest rival in the championship, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, whose time of 1:38.132 was enough to see the Spaniard finish second at the close of the session.
Webber’s review of first day on the Yeongam circuit was enough to quell many onlooker’s concerns, with the track only passing its final inspection just eleven days ago. “It was a positive day and car ran well,â€ said the Australian. “There was a lot of information to gather and we’ve done that pretty successfully.â€ It was also a positive day for the race organisers, with Webber speaking highly of the circuit. “It’s enjoyable to drive here; there are a couple of unique sectionsâ€¦the pit entry and exit is a bit marginal to get on and off the track but, apart from that, they’ve done a remarkable job and I’m clutching at straws to criticise anything.â€
The issue of the pit entry and exit was one expressed by few drivers, with most teams more concerned with coming to grips with the new circuit, quite literally. Hamilton (3rd 1:38.279) expressed his original concerns of a slippery track, but dramatic track evolution soon laid enough rubber to get the track times flowing, and add a bit more grip to the circuit.
Alonso expressed his concern of rapid tire wear for this grand prix. “At the moment there is nothing particularly to flag up, apart from the fact that the tyres wear rapidly, as in fact one could predict on a completely new track surface. It’s not worth worrying about it, because the situation will have improved by Sunday and also, we are more or less all in the same situation.â€
Kubica and his Renault were fourth quickest, with the Pole confessing that his team were aiming to “try and extract a bit more from the car.â€ Button finished fifth, despite experiencing overheating issues with his car, which cost him some time. Felipe Massa tested both a standard and a blown rear wing during his session, admitting that the blown rear wing was a necessity for use on Yeongam’s straights. The Brazillian finished a comfortable sixth, with a lap time of 1:38.820.
The other Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel, could only finish 7th in a session marred with a puncture early in P2. He also expressed concern with the pit entry and exits. Petrov and Rosberg were 8th and 9th respectively, with Kobayashi rounding out the top 10.
Germans Heidfeld and Schumacher were 11th and 12th respectively, with the latter admitting he was pleasantly surprised with the circuit.â€ Barrichello was 14th, with the two Force Indias of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil following immediately behind.
Hulkenberg was 16th the young German claiming he had a better set up in the first session, although he was still happy with his performance. The rest of the order had no surprises, with Alguersuari and Buemi next following. Kovalainen was faster than his team-mate, with Trulli coming in 20th despite issues with his gearbox. Glock, Di Grassi, and Yamamoto followed. Bruno Senna completed the order with a lap-time over 8.7 seconds behind Webber, with the Brazilian Driver experiencing some technical glitches which he hopes will soon be rectified.
All in all, it was a positive day for Mark Webber, who might have just asserted himself a little, after recognising that he needs to win one more race in order to put one hand on the trophy. The race organisers and fans are left feeling relieved and excited about the prospect of a fantastic Grand Prix later this weekendâ€¦.