With much of the talk heading into the Korean Grand Prix weekend focused on Red Bull‘s recent dominance, Friday’s practice offered up a bit of a pleasant surprise as Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets for both sessions.
Indeed, the competitive order looks to be much closer this weekend, as Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg, along with the Lotus drivers of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, appear to have upped their game in response to the events two weeks ago in Singapore.
The stories over one lap and many seem quite similar. Mercedes and Red Bull are evenly matched with Lotus right behind, followed by Ferrari and Mclaren. Further down, Force India have found some extra competitiveness as they respond to Sauber‘s recent turn of speed. Behind them are the Toro Rossos and Williams, followed by Caterham and Marussia. So, over one lap, the competitive order seems pretty familiar.
The long runs are where the competition really heats up. Raikkonen was the fastest of all on the Supersoft tires over his 12-lap run, with Sebastian Vettel equal third with Grosjean. With Rosberg going second fastest on his run on Supersoft tires, the race should be very close. Ferrari ran respectable times with heavy fuel, so given they are there or thereabouts, you can rest assured Fernando Alonso will be in the hunt for a podium tomorrow.
As in Singapore, both the Medium and Supersoft tires are showing good durability, with the latter boasting a one second advantage over the former, which is much less than we saw two weeks ago. However, considering the differences in performances between the tires and their durability, strategy will play a major role in spicing up what has, in the past, been quite a dull Grand Prix.