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Korea 2010 - Free Practice 1 highlights - Full coverage of the first session at the brand new track

Published by Christine

Tonio Liuzzi enters the pitlane during Free Practice in Korea
Credit: Force India F1

It was a hazardous session, although nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. However, for a Free Practice session, it was chaotic and not something we are used to. The sun was shining, but the track was dusty, and we saw plenty of excursions into the grass. The tyres looked terrible by the end of the 90 minutes.

Hamilton had the most interesting session, leaving it very, very late to set a lap time, after a few visits out of the garage for installation laps. He made multiple changes to the car, which must have worked as he finished the morning with the fastest time. It was fascinating to watch the times drop from an initial 2:20 to a fabulous 1:40, slashing through the estimated lap time with ease.

Here's how Free Practice 1 in Korea played out.

As it happened: 2010 Korea - Free Practice 1

  • 01:30

    Hello there friends!

  • 01:31

    It is early, early, early here in the UK, and here I am with an unusual Free Practice Factbyte Factbox.

  • 01:31

    What can be said about the Korean track that hasn't been said already?

  • 01:32

    There was construction happening out there until the very last minute. Vettel picked up a nail or two on his track walk, as he passed the guys painting the kerbs.

  • 01:33

    TweetTweet from @KangarooTV: There are bets going around the Paddock as to who will be the first driver to crash in P1 #F1

  • 01:33

    Let's dive right in with a straw poll. My money is on Buemi.

  • 01:34

    Where can I respond? I hear you cry. Well, the FBFB looks best when situated in the Sidepodcast Dashboard -

  • 01:34

    Or you can visit the live commenting thread itself:

  • 01:35

    TweetTweet from @habibiF1: @factbytefactbox My money is on Senna

  • 01:38

    As has been the case for a while now, the five guys gunning for the title are Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Button and Vettel... not necessarily in that order.

  • 01:40

    Massa has said that, whilst he is nothing like a number two driver, he'll do what he can to help Alonso and the team.

  • 01:41

    Meanwhile, Hamilton believes the reliability might be with them this weekend, and he wants to fight for the win.

  • 01:41

    Never mind all that though. The race is ages away, and we have a glorious hour and a half of tentative track action to enjoy.

  • 01:43

    TweetTweet from @edb_lotusracing: Morning All! I'm supporting the race from Norwich today, so it's a 1:30am start. There's two of us in, so no queue at the coffee machine!

  • 01:46

    TweetTweet from @alexjsnell: The stands are looking a tad empty at the moment - hopefully they'll fill up later! #F1

  • 01:46

    You would be forgiven for thinking it was crazy o'clock over there too, from the lack of people in the stands.

  • 01:46

    For those in the UK, the BBC stream will appear here:

  • 01:47

    Whilst Autosport have live text updates here:

  • 01:48

    Oh, and don't forget Bernie's live timing: If it feels like working.

  • 01:52

    What do we know of this brand new circuit then? It is a sort-of permanent track (still in progress, eh-hem), and is 5.62km long. 18 turns.

  • 01:52

    Guess how many metres of FIA safety fencing there is?

  • 01:52

    No, go on, guess.

  • 01:54

    QuoteComment from me: erm FBFB... 1,000 meters of fencing?


  • 01:54

    QuoteComment from Steven Roy: 10,000

    Also wrong.

  • 01:56

    QuoteComment from CAMikaze: I say 15,000 meters of fencing


  • 01:56

    The answer is... drum roll please...

    7,905 metres

  • 01:58

    Want to play again? I have the total length of tyre barriers if you're interested. No, okay. Practice is about to start. We shall focus instead.

  • 01:58


    Fact fail.

  • 01:59

    We are definitely not playing this game again. Total FIA safety fencing = 5819.9 metres. Total guard rail = 7904.64 metres.

    Eh-hem. Still, no one got it right. So there.

  • 02:00

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 02:00

    Green flagPractice started.

  • 02:01

    Kovalainen has led the drivers out on track, and ten cars have gone out already.

  • 02:02

    The track is filthy, lots of dust being thrown up by the cars. Tentative is the word.

  • 02:02

    Tom Clarkson on the 5live commentary has said the track is still weeping, and oil is still rising as it cures. If there is any rain, it's all going to mix together and be a bit dangerous.

  • 02:03

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: The bright sunshine makes the car is hard to identify as they come down the long straight towards Turn 3.

  • 02:03

    Of all the problems we were expecting today, that was not one of them!

  • 02:04

    RadioTeam radio from Alguersuari: "The track is very, very dirty. Really, really dirty. Very slippery."

  • 02:06

    Illustrating the dirty track, Jaime sets the first lap time on the new track - 2:20.611.

  • 02:07

    The circuit has seating capacity for 120,000 spectators, but it's looking pretty sparse out there today. Maybe the fans don't know the track is finished?

  • 02:08

    It must be pretty dusty. The 5live crew are suffering - Crofty sounds a bit throaty, whilst Holly Samos reports from the pitlane, coughing and spluttering as she does so.

  • 02:09

    We've got a 2:20 laptime, and the approximations beforehand were for a 1:44. That's quite a lot of improvement we've got to see.

  • 02:10

    TweetTweet from @MikeGascoyne: Jarno's comment after the installation lap is that he has never driven on such a slippery track, expect some action today then

  • 02:10

    Jaime's is the only laptime for the moment, but all cars have been out for an installation lap.

  • 02:12

    All falls quiet, and Schumacher, Alonso and Rosberg don't look like they'll be getting back soon. I guess someone has to go out and clear up all the dust.

  • 02:12

    Any volunteers?

  • 02:12



    Wind Speed1.3
  • 02:13

    Kubica! He's heading out. Petrov is also joining him. Brownie points for the Renault boys.

  • 02:14

    I must admit, we were just shown shots of fans. Quite a lot of them. They were walking, and not sitting, but still... FANS!

  • 02:14

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Force india trivia: tonio is using a new chassis this weekend as his japan chassis was damaged in the massa accident

  • 02:16

    Here's a new table, with thanks to Brembo for the epic amounts of information. This is Turn 1, but we may have more coming up later.

    Braking Analysis
    Turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial Speed299km/h
    Final Speed103km/h
    Stopping Distance101m
    Braking Time2.00s
    Maximum Deceleration4.84g
    Maximum Pedal load142kg
  • 02:18

    TweetTweet from @rf1paddockpass: Robert says that grip levels in the pitlane are very low as well

  • 02:21

    At the moment, just Alguersuari and Yamamoto are out on track. Jaime has improved on his time - 2:16.178.

  • 02:22

    Ted Kravitz reports that Hamilton will be going back to the old-spec front wing on his next run, whilst Button is sticking with the new one.

  • 02:23

    Sakon was on a better lap, shaving seven seconds off the top time, but then he ran off onto the grass. The grip is still not there, then.

  • 02:27

    Jérôme d'Ambrosio in KoreaJerome D'Ambrosio is in the car for Virgin Racing, taking Lucas di Grassi's seat.

  • 02:27

    These laptimes are looking better, both Schumacher and Buemi drop below two minutes. Buemi P1 at the moment - 1:52.318.

  • 02:28

    TweetTweet from @willbuxton: So, Yamamoto runs off track, slides all over the place and goes fastest by 10 seconds. Today could be fun.

  • 02:30

    Vettel is sitting cross-legged in the garage. Not going out soon.

  • 02:30

    Webber posts a 1:49.308. The times are dropping nicely now.

  • 02:31

    Quite a different approach from the Red Bull drivers. One is happy to wait, the other is keen to get on with it.

  • 02:33

    Hamilton is currently engaged in a debrief with his engineer. He's completed five laps without setting a laptime. I feel like that's quite an achievement.

  • 02:34

    This is not really representative of anything, but is quite an interesting line-up.

    Current Top Five
    1WebberRed Bull
    2BuemiToro Rosso
  • 02:36

    Sutil has just put his helmet on. He's about to go out and improve on his single, untimed lap. Won't take much improvement, I guess.

  • 02:36

    Webber again - 1:45.723. This is much healthier.

  • 02:38

    Massa runs very wide on his first flying lap.

  • 02:41
    Top Speeds
    Sector 1Barrichello242kph
    Sector 2Barrichello184kph
    Sector 3Webber281kph
    Speed TrapSenna307kph
  • 02:43

    Barrichello is very strong during the first half of the lap, where there are plenty of nice long straights. When it gets a bit twisty, Webber's Red Bull flies around the corners, and that seems to be helping him all the way to P1.

  • 02:44

    Actually, it's helped him all the way to the garage, as Webber goes back in.

  • 02:44

    13 drivers have set times now, and all have managed to sneak below the 2 minute mark, except for Alguersuari who is still on 2:16. Oops.

  • 02:49

    TweetTweet from @willbuxton: Last few corners here are total fever. No margin for error. Tougher than it looks on the map. Tight, wall, and dirt on apex of final turn.

  • 02:49

    Kobayashi makes an error, running wide at the pitlane entrance.

  • 02:50

    Vettel has climbed into the car and is out on track now. Meanwhile, the top three - Hulk, Webber and Barrichello, have all pitted.

  • 02:52

    Kobayashi kicks up some pitlane dustKamui running a different line into the pitlane.

  • 02:55

    Alonso runs pretty wide, and Sutil also kicks up dust - trying to avoid a Virgin Racing car diving in the pitlane.

  • 02:55

    Vettel pops up to P1 - a 1:44.404.

  • 02:56

    There are concerns that the pitlane entrance is blind and on the racing line as well. Discussions with Charlie Whiting are planned, but there is little the organisers can do.

  • 02:56

    Kubica and Hamilton are the only two drivers not to have set a time, but Robert is just about to rectify that.

  • 03:00
    Inter-Team Battle
    Nick Heidfeld
    1:45.125   (6th)
    Kamui Kobayashi
    1:46.820 (14th)
  • 03:03

    Button joins the ranks of drivers who have run off track and into the dust. He has also managed to go fastest, somehow. 1:43.096.

  • 03:03

    Button pits.

  • 03:05

    Hamilton still has not set a time - Holly Samos reports that the mechanics are just securing the engine cover back on the car. Unsure if he has a problem or not.

  • 03:05

    Hamilton has done 8 laps now, with no time. I wonder if there is a record for such things.

  • 03:07

    CrashBruno Senna! He is the first to meet the tyre barriers, and his session is over. Yellow flags.

  • 03:07

    @habibif1 was right!!

  • 03:10

    Senna reversing into the cornerBruno takes the corner backwards. It looks like he didn't hit anything, but his left rear wheel was hanging off, likely due to the severity of the spin.

  • 03:11

    This puts a bit of pressure on Hamilton if he does want to get a laptime in today. If he has problems, of course, a time won't be his top priority.

  • 03:12

    Holly Samos reports that Hamilton has gone back to the new rear wing again, after testing out the old one (with no laptime). He and Jenson are both running the same parts, then.

  • 03:13

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: The local marshals are being aided by a team from Australia this weekend, but that recovery of Senna's car is taking some time.

  • 03:14

    Williams have improved their times, Hulk P1 and Barrichello P2 - both into the 1:42s.

  • 03:16

    HRT mechanics are collecting their damaged car, and are saying for now that there's no suggestion of suspension failure on the telemetry.

  • 03:16

    QuoteComment from Steven Roy: If HRT can't say for sure it was a suspension failure I can. Bruno caught the car going backwards and then it spun again.

  • 03:18
    Current Top Five
  • 03:19

    McLaren say both drivers are ready for their final run of the morning. Both drivers are out of the pitlane. They're side by side out on track, Hamilton ahead of Button. Will we see a laptime from Lewis?

  • 03:19

    Jarno Trulli has a gearbox problem so won't be spotted in the next ten minutes.

  • 03:22

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: really a lot of graining on Felipe's tyres

  • 03:22

    And there it is! The long-awaited time from Hamilton. A 1:47.336 which puts him 19th.

  • 03:25

    We are into the last five minutes now, and Hamilton is on a flyer.

  • 03:26

    He popped up to P1, only to be pushed down by Button, the first man into the 1:41s.

  • 03:29

    Oop, Hamilton isn't having any of it, and puts in a 1:40.887 to go P1. We were expecting a 1:44. This is fast!

  • 03:30

    Chequered flagSession complete.

  • 03:31

    Kubica puts in a late dash to jump up to second.

  • 03:33
    Top Five
    1Lewis Hamilton1:40.887
    2Robert Kubica1:40.968
    3Nico Rosberg1:41.152
    4Sebastian Vettel1:41.371
    5Jenson Button1:41.940
  • 03:33

    It's safe to say it was not the disaster we might have been expected, although there was plenty of dust flying around, and the tyres do look a little worse for wear as the cars return to the garage.

  • 03:34

    Hamilton clearly has nothing to worry about, despite saving his time until the very last minute.

  • 03:35

    The times don't appear to be too representative of anything. Ferrari are quite far down - P12 and P15, whilst the Williams drivers were doing a great job but have finished the morning 9th and 10th.

  • 03:36

    Thanks for joining me this morning. I suppose I will be back later for Free Practice 2. Well, I know I will, I'm just trying not to think about it. Zzzzzz.

All content in the series Korea 2010