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New Korean track gets the all clear from FIA
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New Korean track gets the all clear from FIA
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Oct 2010   |  6:18 pm GMT  |  47 comments

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.

Anxious faces as FIA's Charlie Whiting inspects the Korean track, but he cleared it


As it is they still have a mountain to climb and need at least one non finish from each of the three drivers ahead of them to have a chance. I’ll post tomorrow on Button’s tactics in Japan and what it shows of McLaren’s challenge at the moment.

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.

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47 Comments
  1. knoxploration says:

    I’d be worried about a lot more than a greasy track if it rains. Aerial photos taken last weekend show that most of the land around the circuit is still basically an active construction site, with miles of bare earth and no sign of landscaping whatsoever. Given a good downpour, the circuit is going to be little more than a muddy path through the swamp.

    Throw in the fact that the same aerial photos show that — as of just a few days ago — construction had barely even *started* on most of the grandstands for which tickets have been sold, and there’s every chance we’ll be having to rescue the brave fans who’ve disappeared into the mire if it rains.

    One thing’s for sure — even if it’s sunny, I wouldn’t touch anything, anywhere. You’re liable to get paint all over yourself.

    1. arch says:

      I wouldn’t worry about the oil, if the surface hasn’t had the necessary months to properly cure, there’s a pretty good chance the track will get torn-up in huge chunks as soon as an F1 tyre starts pulling at it.

      By Sunday, I’d expect the cars to be jacked up like Monster Trucks, just to get round a tarmac moto-cross track.

      [Oh, and James, if you are gonna have a square-go with Saward in the mediacentre, give him a boot full-square in the nads from me. I don't much like that guy.]

      1. James Allen says:

        I asked that specific question and the engineers I spoke to said that this is not likely to happen. As for Joe, I’m meeting him for a coffee in the paddock in Korea.

  2. Bec says:

    I believe the the constant media attacks on the Korean GP have had a detrimental effect on ticket sales, as people didn’t know whether the race was on or off.

    I wish them well.

    1. jonrob says:

      It may well be like the Indian Olympics ie empty grandstands, (no one can afford tickets or time) so it won’t matter if they have not been built. Though how the Koreans are going to make back their Bernie money is a mystery.

  3. Andrewshould be working says:

    Loking forward to your post on Mclaren tactics last Sunday. IMHO it rides on two big if’s if JB had let LH through early on and had LH’s gearbox held, we may have seen an interesing race. It certainly implies there are team orders at McLaren and perhaps more importantly, JB is not prepared to carry them out

    1. nash says:

      I am curious about your post about JB tactics but my arm chair enthusiast take on it… is that Mclaren were favoring LH pretty much.. leaving JB out was getting LH in front of JB so he could mount an attack on FA.

      I wonder how JB felt about that? On the other hand JB seems to believe that running longer suits his style more. But the logic of having him run in 1st place for so long.. was that a tactic to stall Red Bull’s pace at the front… so LH could close in?

      Again that favours LH only..

  4. Paulo Miranda says:

    Nice news for Maclaren.
    I would love to see the circuit of Portimão added to the F1 Calendar, so that my country could be back on the F1. I read some reports of some drivers that the circuit is very nice and a bit changeling.

    1. Gemma says:

      So do i, have family just down the road, would be a great and easy track to get to and watch!!

    2. RubberGoat says:

      Me too. looks like a great track!

  5. Joe says:

    Off topic..

    James (or anyone for that matter), I just wondered if you could be of any help..?

    I’m writing a Formula 1 comment piece for my university newspaper and am in need of a stat i just cannot find!

    When was the last time 5 drivers were in contention for the world title at the final race of the season? I’m pretty sure i read what year it was on the autosport website a few weeks ago but just cannot find the stat anywhere! I think it was in the 1960s but several hours on the web and I can’t find it out!

    If you, or anyone, could please tell I’d be very very grateful!

    Cheers!

    1. Spark says:

      Not sure whether it is allowed to promote another site on this one, but it is meant to help someone so I’ll take my changes. You could take a look at statsf1.com. All the statistics are there, including championshipstandings after every race from every season. So if you want to dive into some statistics that is where you need to take a look.

      1. Joe says:

        Thanks, Spark. I can imagine the F1 points systems was quite different back then to what it was pre 2010 so…anyone know the year?!

      2. Spark says:

        Joe, you’re welcome. Included on the website on the various seasons, it is also explained which point system was used during that year. So if you have some hours to spare, you can dig up any statistic you like. Referring to your question, just don’t know it from the top of my head.

      3. mtb says:

        Probably 1982. The points system was 9-6-4-3-2-1 then. There is a wikipedia page showing the final standings. You will need to look into what would have happened had drivers tied on 39 points.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      May I suggest that you check 1981 season. ;-)

  6. Paul says:

    Speaking of Portimao, do you think the chance of it hosting a GP has now gone? It would be a fantastic addition to the calendar but it feels like there are too many new circuits coming in (e.g. Korea, India, Austin, Rome) that Portimao’s chances are looking slim

    1. Skronk says:

      No way there will be anything in Portugal until Spain loses Europe GP. My two cents.

  7. Tony says:

    The only GP ever to be “postponed” was at Spa in I think 85. The reason tarmac being ripped up because it hadn’t been left to mature as per the instructions. Hope that doesn’t happen here. What happened to the rule that said new tracks had to hold an international grade event before holding a GP? A good idea that isn’t used any more. What we need are non championship races to help iron out the snags, the teams could use them for testing new drivers ideas without risking points. Especialy good idea in 2012 with a new formula in 2013 .

    1. Mohawkk says:

      I for one would like to see some non C’ship rounds being held. maybe in the form of 2 sprint races, 1 on saturday and 1 on sunday. also have a rookie or test driver in 1 car

  8. D. says:

    Korea being a brand new venue, I would think that Lewis and Alonso would adapt very quickly to the circuit. I am not so sure about Vettel.

    1. Luke Osborne says:

      Every driver at that level can learn a track quickly. Who will learn it the fastest is another story.

      Having said that, each driver will do 2 full GP distances before they even set foot on the track for the first time and they have the Karun Chandok video as well to study so it’s not like they will be learning from scratch!

      I’m no F1 driver but even in a few laps you get a feel for a new circuit, let alone 2 full GP distances!

  9. Trent says:

    Hi James,

    From your comments, are you driving/being driven to the circuit from Incheon? That is a hard slog.

    There are domestic flights to Mokpo, which is pretty close to the circuit. Or the KTX fast train from Seoul to Mokpo. Anyway, just some ideas!

    Good luck on the adventure!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks. KTX sounds the most likely. Not got round to planning it yet, too much else on.

  10. jay harte says:

    James
    If we get a dry race who do you give the advantage too at
    korea ? jonathan legard said something about mclaren really targetting this track as the best for them of the remaining races i think mclaren will be untouchable at abu dhabi ,not sure about this track being for them ? sector 1 will be f duct land but sector 2 and 3 look like real red bull territory .
    your the only person who gives correct predictions about races these days any thoughts ?
    thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think McLaren will be untouchable anywhere. Hamilton was fast there last year with KERS. But Vettel was fast too. I think Red Bull will gain in Sector 2 in Korea, but it will come down to details we don’t know yet, like kerbs.

      1. Nilesh says:

        James, do you think that RBR will get on front row due to sectors 2 and 3 but lose out in the dash to the first corner on the first lap? Hope we don’t have another race decided at the first corner.

  11. FaithHealer1 says:

    James, wondered if you could clear this up for me. The question’s kinda been asked a couple of times already, but I was wondering what your take is on a slightly different issue.
    Having seen videos of GT races etc from Portimao, I’m wondering what’s stopping it from getting on the calendar? Is it licence, money, Bernie or something else? It seems good enough for F1, and the sort of imaginative, undulating track that seems to have gone out of fashion for new venues, and personally I’d love to see it on the calendar. So why do you think it’s not on the calendar, and what do you think it’s chances are in the future?

    1. James Allen says:

      I guess it’s to do with the promoter, the fee and so on. I’ll find out

      1. FaithHealer1 says:

        Thanks James, I look forward to it!

  12. Giles says:

    James – just a side issue question. What are your thought/impressions on the current state of the relationship between Vettel and Webber? Seems like they are civil to each other but nothing more. Keen to hear your thoughts.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll give you a better idea when I get to Korea, but experience says that things will get more tense as it comes down to the end. It looks like both wil fight to the last race, Alonso is hanging on with them, fast in the race, but giving something away in qualifying

  13. JohnBt says:

    ‘around 1m 40 in the race at an average speed of around 190kmh (120mph)’

    That’s rather slow, but track looks wide so looks like good chances for overtaking.

    James, will they be extending the usual 90 minutes sessions for FP1 and FP2?.

    1. jonrob says:

      “That’s rather slow, but track looks wide so looks like good chances for overtaking”
      Ok until the off line fills with marbles. Strangely this did not seem to happen in Japan, why not I wonder?

  14. Phil says:

    As a Mark Webber fan I was hoping Korea would be cancelled. He’d be a much better chance of winning the championship if there were only two races left!
    Can Webber win the championship? Yes. Will he win the Championship? No I don’t think so. If Vettel wins again and Weber second, it’ll go right down to Abu Dhabi between those two.

    1. Mr squiggle says:

      I agree Webber can win, and also am not sure that he will.

      Apart from his recent problems getting off the line, my sense is that he does not learn new tracks quickly. His wins appear to be at the older style “classic’ tracks that he has visited many times.

      Still, I wouldn’t have picked four wins for him this season, there is hope yet!!!!!

  15. Mr G says:

    James,
    I understand the need to expand the reach of F1 but I don’t understand the policy of trying to expand at all costs.
    I am sure Bernie has a better view than myself in this matter but, with the world economical problems that we face, I thought it will be more sensible to keep the F1 calendar as it is for a couple of years and maybe only add venues that really wants the sport, such as Russia and USA.
    Overall I like the idea of a 20 races calendar but it should be realistic and have a real purpose, I am not keen to see races all over the world without spectators and showing that F1 is not carbon sensitive

  16. Regis says:

    Hey Phil have faith in Webber, he can do it :)
    But i wouldn’t put my money on him, I think Alonso will do it. If it goes down to the last race between the red bulls i think we might see some auto destruction, and Alonso will grab it.

  17. Chris Chong says:

    I found the photo for this article hilarious.

    Was imagining Charlie Whiting and a whole delegate of Koreans walking an entire lap of the circuit in formation while Whiting goes, “Yup… Yup… Yup… Yup… Yup… Uh-huh… Yup… Ooh, dunno ’bout that… Yup… Yup… Good Lord, are they planting cabbage there? Yup… Yup… Yup…”

  18. nash says:

    would there not be a way for the organizers to artificially rain the track with some kind of fat disolvent, to get rid of the grease?

  19. Nick Banks says:

    James,

    Glad to hear you’ll be speaking with Joe Saward. His comments were typically hostile and made him seem very bitter indeed.

    He might loudly proclaim his his attendance at every race but on the evidence it is no guarantee of great content.

    No doubt JA on F1 will continue to set the standard from Korea.

    1. James Allen says:

      Listen, this is really a non issue. I’ve known Joe for 20 years. I see him at the races. He likes to let off from time to time, we’ll have a coffee and a friendly chat in Korea! BTW I’ve got some stonking video of Fan Ambassador Neil Donnell and I driving F3000 cars in Abu Dhabi coming up soon. Check it out!

  20. Chauncey Gardener says:

    James, Good to see this approved, hope we get a good race and thanks for the geat insights!

    On a different note I am planning to go to the Belgian GP next year, an “original” F1 track, so the other end of the spectrum from Korea.

    Where would you and the other site readers recommend sitting? Would like to see some of the circuit, not just a small part immediately in front.

    Thanks in advance for your comments

    1. FaithHealer1 says:

      Personally, I’d reccommend a bronze ticket and sitting on the verge above the straight just before Pouhon – you can see Liege corner, the straight and much of Pouhon from there. 2009 Spa was the only race I’ve ever been to, and I found that the only problem with Spa’s beautiful, hilly location is that it’s quite tricky to see big parts of the track in detail. The Kemmel straight’s quite good, too, nice long view of the cars climbing up and a distant view of the pit straight. And my grandstand (Silver 2) just before Eau Rouge was great – you see quite a bit of the drag away from La Source right up to the crest of Eau Rouge, although the speed of the cars mean that might not be as ‘big’ a view as you’re after (but it does give you a permenant seat). For you, a bronze/general admission ticket sounds good – you can get to all the nice banks around the track, see the top of Eau Rouge, Kemmel, Rivage, Liege, Pouhon, Fagnes and even a rather narrow view of Blanchimont – all for a rather low price. And my favourite place in the bronze zone is around Pouhon. Hope that helps!

  21. Jim says:

    james, just wondering about Charlie Whiting. He’s at every race, out inspecting tracks inbetween them. Do you know if he can actually remember where he lives ;-)

  22. Josh Gant says:

    For what it’s worth, I turned about 100 laps on the new Korea circuit on my PC the other night in F1 2010 and I love it! I think the last sectors flow really well – I can’t image much passing happening there but it would seem like a lot of fun.

    The pit exit seems dangerous to me – when you come through turn two you cross the pit exit line and cars coming out of the pit will appear at the last minute from behind a wall at high speed.

    Looking forward to the race!

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