Hamilton fastest in Korean practice

Fri Oct 4, 2013 12:59pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

YEONGAM, South Korea (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton kept championship leader Sebastian Vettel off the top of the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix while Kimi Raikkonen slammed his Lotus into a tire wall in the morning.

The Mercedes driver lapped the anti-clockwise Yeongam circuit, set against a backdrop of coastal marshes and South Korean shipyard cranes, with a best time of one minute 39.630 seconds in the morning and 1:38.673 after lunch.

Red Bull's Vettel, chasing his fourth win in a row since the end of August and third in succession in Korea, was second quickest in both sessions run in bright sunshine and under cloudless skies.

"I feel like I have a bit of a better foundation this weekend. I can't remember the last time I had a really strong Friday," said Hamilton.

"We haven't changed anything but the day just went smoothly and all the processes with the team worked well."

Vettel was a mere 0.037 slower in the first, after firing in his best lap in the closing seconds, and 0.108 adrift in the second.

"I think it will be very close this weekend with Mercedes," said the German, who has a 60 point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with six races to go and could clinch his fourth successive title this month.

Alonso, who was sixth and seventh in the sessions, sounded gloomy afterwards.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the second practice session of the Korean F1 Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji