Hamilton fastest in practice for Korean GP
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in practice for Sunday's Formula One Korean Grand Prix, though wet conditions meant little could be read into the performance.
The Briton clocked a lap of 1 minute, 50.828 seconds Friday, 0.104 seconds faster than teammate Jenson Button on a track that was dampened by steady rain. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who clinched his second straight drivers championship at last weekend's Japanese GP, was third fastest but almost two seconds off Hamilton's best.
''Today's not a particularly important day,'' Hamilton said. ''It was miserable today but I heard it was going to be better tomorrow so we'll get a better feel for the car tomorrow. If it rains, we are in a good position so that's a positive.''
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who won here last season at the inaugural Korean GP, was fourth followed by Red Bull's Mark Webber.
Qualifying for Sunday's race will be held Saturday.
The rain was heavier in the morning session and eased during the afternoon practice, but drivers were unable to test their dry tires.
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, who had the fastest time in the rain-drenched morning practice, dropped down to 14th place.
Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari was sixth followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was eighth ahead of Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi, while Force India's Paul di Resta rounded out the top 10.
Hamilton is hoping to change his luck in Sunday's race. In the five races since winning the German Grand Prix in July, the 2008 world champion has gone without a top-three finish and is coming off back-to-back fifth place finishes in Singapore and Japan, both of which involved crashes with Massa.
Button won the Japanese GP on Sunday and Hamilton said that's a sign the McLaren drivers are pushing the Red Bulls.
''We are quick, the car feels good,'' Hamilton said. ''Jenson showed that in the last race that we can be very competitive so I have no doubt we will be out to challenge them. Whether or not we can outdo them in qualifying, which hasn't been done all year, will be interesting.''
Hamilton finished second in the inaugural Korean GP through treacherous conditions at the Yeongam track. Drier conditions are predicted for this year's race.