After finishing quickest in the first practice session on Friday morning in Korea, Lewis Hamilton has continued to dominate proceedings after once again topping the timesheets in second practice at the Korean International Circuit.
However, just as he was in the first session, Hamilton was quickly tailed by two-time Korean GP winner Sebastian Vettel, whilst Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber also put in strong performances in support of their teammates. Eventually, less than two-tenths covered the top four drivers, suggesting that we could be set for a straight fight between Red Bull and Mercedes across the course of the weekend.
Hamilton went fastest at the half-way point in the session, and despite going out for his super-soft run later than the Briton, Vettel could not respond to the pace of the Mercedes W04 car as the team goes in search of its first win since the summer break.
In the final stages of the session, teams elected to undertake high-fuel runs in order to replicate conditions on race day, meaning that the times at the top failed to come under threat. This handed Hamilton – who started the 2011 race on pole position – P1 for the second time in the space of a few hours.
For Ferrari, the session was less fruitful as Felipe Massa led their charge in fifth whilst Fernando Alonso could only come home in seventh, splitting the Lotus pairing of Romain Grosjean (P6) and Kimi Raikkonen (P8). The Finn responded well from a hefty crash in FP1, and his back injury does not appear to be causing him too much grief.
Paul di Resta returned to the wheel of his Force India for second practice after reserve driver James Calado was given track time earlier on in the day. The Scottish driver ran strongly, finishing P11 and just 0.001 seconds behind teammate Adrian Sutil.
Although all of the results from practice must be taken with a pinch of salt, it appears that the advantage that Red Bull enjoyed in Singapore may have shrunk as Mercedes look to bounce back from a disappointing run of results.