Fernando Alonso: “The impressions are the usual Friday ones and to say more, we will have to wait until tomorrow and see how qualifying goes. On this track too it’s aerodynamics that make the difference and for that reason, I am not expecting too many surprises when compared to the last few Grands Prix. The time sheet follows the order that continues to be more or less the same seen in previous weekends and there is every probability that, again here, we can expect to struggle in the race. The difference between the two compounds is not as evident as in Singapore, but the Supersoft definitely has a very high degradation and we will have to see how much the track surface improvement will affect its behaviour. It won’t be easy for us in performance terms, but we know that apart from that, we can do well on Sunday. Now, we must try and get the most out of what we have available and put everything together tomorrow and in the race”.
Felipe Massa: “Today didn’t go too badly, everything worked as it should have done and I had a good feeling in the car. In the morning, I was unable to do much running because of a puncture on the front left tyre, then in the afternoon, we made up for lost time, managing to test everything on the programme. The car handled well on both the compounds that Pirelli has brought here, even if on the Supersoft we encountered particularly high degradation. On a first lap on new tyres you gain a lot at the beginning, but then you lose a lot and over the long run maybe there is more graining than with the Mediums. It’s only Friday and we still need to understand where we are compared to our rivals. Even if we saw that Mercedes and Red Bull are very strong, I hope to have a more competitive car than in recent races, which will allow me to fight”.
Pat Fry: “Despite the difficulties encountered in the first session and the dusty track, this day ended in a positive manner. I am sure that this evening, along with the opinions of the drivers, the data gathered during the two sessions will supply us with all the tools we need to optimise the package we will bring to the track tomorrow and in the race. The hierarchy down the pit lane does not seem that different to what it was in Singapore, but equally we are counting on seeing smaller gaps to our rivals. In the morning, we had a puncture on Felipe’s front left tyre during his out lap: that meant we had to call him back into the pits and delay the start of his first run. We lost time getting the new tyre up to temperature and once we were ready, we made the most of the final twenty minutes of the session, hoping an improvement in track condition would produce a more representative picture. In the first session with Fernando, we worked on car set-up, particularly on a comparison of two front wings, while in the second we concentrated on the usual comparison between the two tyre compounds, Medium and Supersoft. From what we could see this afternoon, we should take into account that their performance will be influenced by the evolution of the track surface over the weekend. Furthermore, the weather forecast is very uncertain and this is another factor that should not be underestimated when it comes to selecting the best set-up”.
Korean GP – Sunny Friday, but a wet race in prospect
Yeongam, 4 October – The forecast for Sunday is for rain, but for now the Yeongam circuit is bathed in sunshine and the temperature is 23 degrees. Felipe Massa ended the second session in fifth place with a time of 1.39.114, while Fernando Alonso was seventh in 1.39.444.
Felipe got going immediately to make up for the time lost this morning when he had a puncture. Both F138s ran the Medium tyre to begin with: 7 laps for Massa (1.40.319) and 8 for Alonso (1.40.096.) After thirty minutes the programme switched to qualifying runs on the Supersoft tyres, with Felipe knocking over a second off his time, while Fernando ran into traffic and improved by 0.652 thousandths.
In the second half of the session the programme moved on to race simulations and practice starts, with Alonso doing many laps on the Supersoft, only fitting the Mediums for the final three minutes, while Massa did his long runs on the Medium. The results were promising, but it could be for nothing if the rain does indeed arrive on Sunday. Massa and Alonso completed 30 and 31 laps respectively. Fastest this afternoon was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes with a time of 1.38.673.
Korean GP – A dusty start
Yeongam, 4 October – Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes was fastest in the first free practice session for the Korean Grand Prix in a time of 1.39.630. The Englishman outpaced the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel (1.39.667) and Mark Webber (1.39.816.) Fernando Alonso was sixth for Ferrari in 1.40.374, in a session during which he ran a comparison of two front wings, as well as working on set-up on the dusty Korean track. However, in the other F138, Felipe Massa’s running time was reduced, as he had to pit on his first run with a puncture to the left front tyre, currently being assessed by the Pirelli engineers. The Brazilian did 13 laps, the best in 1.40.880, which puts him tenth on the time sheet.