Lewis Hamilton set down a challenge for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by setting the fastest lap of the opening practice session. The Mercedes man was .030 clear of Vettel in second, who was .150 of team-mate Mark Webber. Nico Rosberg was fourth in the remaining Merc while Jenson Button took fifth for McLaren ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. Kimi Raikkonen finished the session in eighth, but had his session prematurely ended with a huge shunt at the final corner – the same place where Vitaly Petrov binned his Renault during the inaugural Korean Grand Prix. Sergio Perez took ninth for McLaren with Felipe Massa rounding out the top ten.
Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado. Esteban Gutierrez finished fourteenth whilst the Toro Rosso duo of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo sandwiched the Williams rookie, Valtteri Bottas. James Calado was in the VJM-07 in place of Paul di Resta for the first session and recorded eighteenth on the time sheets while Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde beat their Marussia rivals – Max Chilton twenty-first and Rodolfo Gonzalez twenty-second in place of Jules Bianchi.