Lewis Hamilton continued his dominant display in Korea during Free Practice Two, but neither he nor Sebastian Vettel was prepared to show what either driver had up their sleeves before the business end of the weekend.
Keen to make up for lost time and a lost front wing in Free Practice One, Jules Bianchi was first on track during second practice. Paul di Resta too was getting his first laps around the circuit after stepping aside for James Calado.
Attention would be directed towards th supersoft compound and in effect, times would be set to fall considerably this afternoon. Lotus were still in the process of repairing Kimi Raikkonen’s car after his last session shunt while Red Bull dabbled in a spot of high-flo visibility painting on the front wing of Webber’s RB9.
Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg got into a minor tete-a-tete on track reharding a dispute over who owned what piece of road whilst back in eleventh, Raikkonen complained of a steering vibration from his repaired Lotus – the steering apparently pulling to the right.
The material disparity between Lotus and Red Bull was ridiculous, with a new rear wing being assembled to Vettel’s RB9. That Red Bull had even invested in a new $100,000 jack (that should save even more pit-stop time) even with the advantage they already have would surely be making their rivals weep.
Half an hour into the session and Hulkenberg was first to switch to the super-softs, with Mark Webber following his lead shortly after. Until the switch the oder was still Hamilton, with to-hundredths in hand over Webber and a tenth back to Vettel. But just as the Australian made the swith to super-softs he was to undercut Hamilton’s time by six tenths of a second.
Lewis would then fire back at Webber, bettering the Red Bull driver by a tenth. Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg would also soon undercut Webber, but only to the tune of a few hundredths of a second. Hamilton was fairly unimpressed with his own best effort, labeling it just “OK”.
Alonso bolted on some supersofts for a run at the top, but his understeering Ferrari could only propel the Spaniard to fourth on his first flying lap on the softer compound. Down the order, Button and Perez rounded out the potential Q3 suspects in ninth and tenth respectively.
With fifteen minutes left in the session, Esteban Gutierrez entered turn one a few kilometers quicker than his Sauber would’ve liked and ended up facing from whence he came. He was able to continue without holding up the session. Adrian Sutil was also now knocking on the door of the top ten with over a second in hand over his team-mate Paul di Resta; however the two appeared to be on different programs. That was until di Resta made the switch to super-softs and joined his team-mate in eleventh.
In a turn of form, Toro Rosso appeared to be struggling, with Ricciardo and Vergne mired down in eighteenth and nineteenth respectively while Williams Valtteri Bottas was keen to concentrate on long runs – completing twenty laps – by far more than anyone on track.
Vettel would finally step up and pip both Webber and Rosberg, but just as in FP1, was still more than a tenth in arrears of Hamilton. In an upturn of form, looking reasonably competitive was Felipe Massa who was a mere three tenths off Webber’s best on a similar number of laps. Romain Grosjean remained in sixth spot behind Massa, splitting the Ferrari’s with Raikkonen back in eighth.
A late spin from Charles Pic saw him just keep his Caterham from becoming better aquainted with the barriers.
Curiously, the performance gap between the two compounds only appeared to be around one second, whih could lead to a rather pedestrain race if the weather remains as is. Lewis might have a little in hand, but Red Bull never show their true pace.
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