The new circuit in Korea was approved for a racing licence by FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting today, just 11 days before the F1 cars run on it for the first time.
The organisers, KAVO, have certainly cut it fine and have had to put up with many negative headlines in the last few months. The fact that the event will go ahead will be an enormous relief to the drivers struggling to stay in touch in the championship, like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Had Korea been cancelled their chances of competing for the title would have reduced dramatically.
Talking to some F1 engineers today about the new circuit, it seems that it will be a longish lap, around 1m 40 in the race at an average speed of around 190kmh (120mph) so nothing remarkable, a shade slower than Malaysia.
As for the fact that the top layer of asphalt was only laid last week, teams say that this is not a concern in terms of track break up, but one engineer said that he would be concerned if it rains; with a new top layer apparently the oils will be close to the surface and this makes it almost undriveable in wet conditions. The teams experienced this phenomenon at a test in Portimao, in Portugal, when it was newly laid.
The forecast up to Thursday of the event is sunny with only a 10% chance of rain, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a threat at the moment.
I always enjoy going to new circuits and am looking forward to seeing this new track, although not really relishing the idea of the long journey from Seoul.
Incidentally, it seems that Portimao could be back on the pre season test schedule next year. According to Autosport, both Portimao and Bahrain are being considered along with the usual Spanish circuits.