F1 Korea Saturday Practice Results & Full Report: Kubica On Fastest, Top 4 Separated By 1 Tenth


What Happens When The Track Is Green, and Coming Apart a Bit

11:14pm EST — Robert Kubica was the fastest driver of the weekend in the final practice session Saturday morning before qualifying for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix, followed within one tenth of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Mark Webber, with fifth fastest Nico Rosberg nearly three tenths slower than the pole. It was a generally uneventful session, with no times set until well into practice as the track was cooler and less grippy than it had been Friday afternoon. Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel were seventh and sixteenth fastest, respectively.

Webber was the fastest driver for the second practice session at the Yeongam circuit, improving from his seventh fastest time in the first Friday practice session. He was followed by Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, and Button as the fastest five. Final title contender Vettel was seventh fastest, just slower than Massa. The Ferrari duo improved, as has been their wont all season, from fifteenth and twelfth in the first session, respectively. Hamilton dropped from fastest in the first session, as Kubica did from second fastest. Button was fifth fastest in both as a fire in the rear of his car kept him from running during much of the second session, as rear changes did to Hamilton in the first session.

Trulli was the first driver to take to the track on a cooler than Friday Saturday morning, having gearbox issues and not as much running time as he and Lotus would have liked in the Friday sessions. A minute later, half the drivers were beginning to circulate, though Hamilton was the only title contender to be out of the garage. In the next minute, only the Red Bulls, Schumacher, Barrichello, and Kovalainen remained in the garage. However, at least half of those out were only there for an installation lap and not a timed one, returning to the garage in the final, hour-long, session before qualifying. Hamilton was the only one to start a timed sector one, but he aborted his lap. So had everyone else, with no times set with ten minutes gone in practice. The cooler temperatures were causing a decrease in grip, according to Virgin Racing, while Ferrari reminded Twitter followers, “The track has been slightly changed: an higher kerb has been added at the apex of T16 and other minor modifications have been done at T18.”

Though all of the teams noted that their drivers were complaining of a lack of grip, that the track was even more slippery than on Friday, none were doing the running necessary to lay down rubber and increase the grip, with no times and no further laps posted when a quarter of the session was over. Only the Ferraris and McLarens had done two laps each, with every other driver having gone out for only one lap. Alonso had “left the garage walking towards the FIA garage for wheighing [sic],” according to Ferrari while “No one dares to run on a dustly [sic] and slippery asphalt…” Then Alguersuari was again the first man to head back out, joined by Kubica. The Spaniard set the first time (1:45.671) of the session twenty minutes in, nearly eight seconds slower than Webber’s fastest time of Friday (1:37.942).

Soon other drivers began posting times, with leading Buemi (1:41.349) halfway through. He was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Sutil, Alguersuari, Glock, Heidfeld, di Grassi, Kovalainen, and Yamamoto as the top ten. None of the championship rivals had yet to set a time. Sutil and Kovalainen both brought quite a bit of dirt onto the track with relatively minor but messy offs. Alonso’s first timed lap put him straight to the top with a 1:40.795 while teammate Massa was fourth fastest with twenty-five minutes left. Buemi was second, Hulkenberg third, and Liuzzi completed the fastest five at that time. Hamilton soon went faster (1:39.705), even as Alonso bettered his own time, as more rubber was laid down and the other drivers began posting proper times. Alonso moved up again with a 1:39.217 with twenty minutes left to practice. Still, Rosberg had yet to post a time, the only man not to have done so.

The next few minutes were a furious time of one-upmanship as the title contenders posted faster times than each other. When only one quarter of the session remained, Hamilton was fastest, with Kubica, Webber, Button, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Petrov, Schumacher, and Hulkenberg the top ten. It wouldn’t stay that way long, though, as fifth through tenth shuffled about. With ten minutes to go, Hamilton still led (1:38.540), followed by Rosberg (just two hundredths slower), Kubica, Webber, Button, Alguersuari, Alonso, Schumacher, Buemi, and Vettel as the top ten. All but seventeenth fastest Hedfeld were in the garage at that time.

In news that all had been dreading for much of the weekend, Virgin Racing said on Twitter that, “Reports coming in that the new concrete at 16 is still soft and breaking up as cars attack it…” With just a couple of minutes left, Kubica went fastest (1:37.932, one hundredth faster than Webber’s Friday time), with Button also displacing his teammate after a slight off from Hamilton. Massa, then Webber, then Alonso all did their part in moving the McLarens down the order, though Kubica maintained the fastest time as the session ended. Hamilton responded to end the session second fastest, as the top four were covered by one tenth of a second.

Final Times for Saturday Morning Practice:

Driver Time Gap Laps
1. Robert Kubica 1:37.354 15
2. Lewis Hamilton 1:37.402 +.048 16
3. Fernando Alonso 1:37.426 +.072 15
4. Mark Webber 1:37.441 +.087 13
5. Nico Rosberg 1:37.629 +.275 12
6. Felipe Massa 1:37.955 +.601 16
7. Jenson Button 1:38.419 +1.065 15
8. Nico Hulkenberg 1:38.501 +1.147 17
9. Michael Schumacher 1:38.630 +1.276 12
10. Adrian Sutil 1:38.632 +1.278 18
11. Vitaly Petrov 1:38.668 +1.314 14
12. Rubens Barrichello 1:38.733 +1.379 16
13. Sebastien Buemi 1:39.058 +1.704 21
14. Kamui Kobayashi 1:39.145 +1.791 16
15. Jaime Alguersuari 1:39.159 +1.805 21
16. Sebastian Vettel 1:39.780 +2.426 9
17. Nick Heidfeld 1:40.289 +2.935 17
18. Tonio Liuzzi 1:41.591 +4.237 15
19. Jarno Trulli 1:41.623 +4.269 15
20. Timo Glock 1:41.853 +4.499 17
21. Heikki Kovalainen 1:42.095 +4.741 19
22. Lucas di Grassi 1:43.111 +5.757 19
23. Burno Senna 1:43.417 +6.063 19
24. Sakon Yamamoto 1:43.880 +6.526 20
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