Korea “ready” but construction continues

Korean International Circuit aerial photograph

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, who run the Australian Grand Prix, has sent a team of marshals to Korea to help support and train the 700 Korean marshals in preparation for their inaugural Grand Prix this weekend.

Among them is F1 Fanatic reader and experienced marshal John Booker. Here’s his view of the state of the track and facilities:

The circuit itself is ready for Friday morning’s first session. However, the circuit site itself is very much under construction and will remain that way for the event. But it won’t interfere with the race, just look rather unglamorous on the TV.

There are supposed to be lakes inside the circuit (between turns three and eight) as well as the marina around the final section which are very much just dirt pits at the moment. Word is that they wont be completed until next year.

Their plan for the circuit is very ambitious with the positive effect of giving the Korean’s facilities that can be used for many purposes all through out the year, including a permanent race track. Much better than some of the other new circuits which are only used once a year for the same cost.

The teams’ cargo pods arrived yesterday and all the teams bar two were in the process of getting their garages set-up. HRT hadn’t even opened a single pod while Ferrari were completely set up with both cars in the garage and everyone there is sitting around waiting for Thursday.

Today is our rest day while the circuit contractors make all the minor changes to the track we requested after yesterdays inspection and we will be back at the track tomorrow (Wednesday) for another inspection. Most of the issues are purely line of sight issues between posts due to advertising signs (a problem which also occurs at Albert Park).

Thursday will be the FIA speed test where they run the safety car around to test timing lines and we use it as another full circuit test for all marshals.

There is only one support category which is the Hyundai Genesis Series, which is a touring car series run in South Korea. They will have one practise session on Friday, one qualifying session on Saturday and one race on Sunday.
John Booker

Neither John nor the race organisers confirmed reports that cement dust was being used at the track to absorb surface oils from the recently-laid tarmac.

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he nearly cancelled the Korean Grand Prix last month due to the late-running construction work.

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49 comments on Korea “ready” but construction continues

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th October 2010, 9:59

    Great to have these first hand comments and inside information from John. Great job doing the Marshalling as well, John.

    • Chris Yu Rhee said on 19th October 2010, 11:29

      From what I understand, John speaks Korean and is working as a translator, so we’ll get the inside scoop as events unfold. Have a good time John!

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 19th October 2010, 10:04

    I always have the utmost respect for guys like you John, hope you get to enjoy the race in between doing your duties!

    I’ll say one thing for Korea, at least they got their priorities right and ave the track completed. In Britain anything unfinished would probably have half the track done and half the buildings completed.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th October 2010, 10:32

      If they hadn’t i would fancy Kubica’s chanche of a race win :-D (only he would have to bring that Clio with him)

    • Andy W said on 19th October 2010, 11:29

      In Britain I take it you mean Silverstone… which had the track finished and is doing the pit complex in time for next season ;-)

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 19th October 2010, 12:24

        Yep, only ten years after Bernie first asked them to upgrade their facilities. Bang on time!

        • Andy W said on 19th October 2010, 13:18

          or 6 months after Bernie actually gave them a long enough contract for the race to seek the investment that they needed in order to finance the improvements…..

          Prior to that Bernie had been constantly muttering that he wanted rid of Silverstone (well the BRDC), and that the government should foot the bill and all sorts of other crack pot ideas that made it next to impossible for Silverstone to raise the money….

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 19th October 2010, 18:05

        I had Donington in mind actually but it could apply to anything :P

  3. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 19th October 2010, 10:07

    Great insight. Sounds like the circuit is going to be a right mess.

    I can’t believe they didn’t even manage to complete the Marina at the final corner*, curving the track around a big empty sandpit is going to look ridiculous on TV. Expect creative camera angles to try and cover up the problems, the kind we see at Istanbul

    * Although saying as fans have been complaining that every new circuit has a marina, perhaps this is an example of the race organiser taking heed of our complaints!

    • Chris Yu Rhee said on 19th October 2010, 11:30

      The track is still surrounded by rice fields!
      BTW, the promoter has never promoted a race before. Must have been a relative or something…

      • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 19th October 2010, 12:29

        I am not liking the sound of this. I am a proud fan of Formula 1, and when I turn the TV on and see terrible coverage it gets me so angry, as I find it embarrassing and doing a great injustice to the sport I love. But if there isn’t at the very least some grass around the outside of the circuit (to give us the illusion that it has been completed) I am going to be very disappointed. I hate looking back on this sort of stuff in 5-10 years time and remembering how amateur it all was.

        Please Korea, for the sake of Formula 1’s image, deliver us a Grand Prix that is at least as aesthetically pleasing as Turkey…

        • Daniel said on 19th October 2010, 13:02

          Honestly, who cares what it looks like. If the circuit and pit area is in place then we can have a race.

          Actually it’ll be an interesting change to see cars racing through a construction site.

          • US_Peter said on 19th October 2010, 20:01

            Exactly. The image is beside the point. If we see a good race I’ll be happy. By next year they’ll have everything completed.

          • Toby Bushby said on 20th October 2010, 0:23

            I’ll be looking at the cars on track, not what’s outside of it – mudpit or empty grandstands….

    • Chris Yu Rhee said on 19th October 2010, 11:57

      Did you see the article link Keith put up about building an F1 Themed city near the track?
      Does anyone here have a clue?
      This is about as far south as you can go in Korea. It’s never going to be a big attraction to anyone because if they are going south, they just continue on to Jeju Island.
      I guess we will be able to add this city to the six EMPTY international airports that they’ve built on the “build it and they will come” basis. These airports are totally empty, and have no flights at all..

      • Ned Flanders said on 19th October 2010, 12:33

        Ah yes I’ve heard about that, the BBC did an article about it last year:


        • BasCB said on 20th October 2010, 7:17

          I suppose they might have wanted built another airport to go with the track here ;-)

          Bernie can use up to 2 of these airports (Muan and Gwangju) to give them the traffic of a lifetime when his 6 pieces of 474 jets land to ship all F1 freight into the region and out again. And they will have a load of traffic from private airplanes and helicopters to ship the VIPs.

      • DaveW said on 19th October 2010, 21:56

        Why didn’t they build an F1 track at one of these ghost airports? Too cost-effective? The tarmac would have been well-cured well in advance.

        • BasCB said on 20th October 2010, 7:05

          But that would mean hardly any government money flowing into the region to invest in a GP, and it does not offer the possibility of granting lucrative contracts to your bussiness friends.

      • …building an F1 Themed city…

        So, what, the promotional brochures will be 20 years behind the times, it’ll be run with an iron fist by a man 40 years past his prime, he’ll get half of everyone’s rent even though he doesn’t actually do anything and already sold his shares, everyone will have to live in identical houses, and anyone who does home improvement work will be told to take it down two weeks later?

  4. David B said on 19th October 2010, 10:15

    I still am scared about the tarmac…hope we do not have another Spa ’85…
    Thanks John, great report.

  5. Craig said on 19th October 2010, 10:22

    I’ve driven this circuit in rFactor and I have to say the layout is truly awful – I would say it is probably Tilkes worst track so far.

    There are far too many fiddly first gear corners, and the few ‘fast’ corners that there are seem to be an after thought, there is nothing special at all. The first five corners of the lap are all super tight first gear corners – that is pretty shocking design in my opinion.

    The track also seems to be very flat with only minor elevation changes.

    Sepang is easily Tilkes best circuit design. Unfortunately it seems to have been downhill ever since, with Korea being the all time low.

    Please get somebody else.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th October 2010, 10:31

      How do they get the data to do it in rFactor, is it from the FIA or from the teams?

    • ExplosiveFace said on 19th October 2010, 12:24

      If you’re doing more than one corner in first gear you’re doing it wrong.

      • Craig said on 19th October 2010, 13:21

        That depends on gear ratios, but whether your setup uses first or second gear it doesn’t make those corners any less awful.

    • Stealthman said on 19th October 2010, 13:10

      I don’t think you should use an rFactor track to test the layout. As far as I know the game track is awful, but I wouldn’t say that about the real life track yet. The modders wouldn’t have had height data either, so it would be hard to get an accurate track if the real one wasn’t even finished at the time it was released.

      • Craig said on 19th October 2010, 13:24

        I’m using a conversion from Codemasters F1 2010 as i own both games, so the track is pretty high quality.

        Obviously i’m hoping the circuit will seem a bit better for the drivers in F1 (and provide a good race), but my first impressions of driving the layout in rFactor are not good at all.

    • George said on 19th October 2010, 17:12

      I dont think it’s that bad, the last corner is a weird one though. Sector 2 and 3 feels quite similar to Abu Dhabi, getting slower and slower then an awkward final corner.

    • Shimks said on 20th October 2010, 11:52

      What do you mean, it’s been downhill ever since? I thought you said the track was flat!


  6. KateDerby said on 19th October 2010, 10:43

    Thanks John and have a good weekend.

  7. HounslowBusGarage said on 19th October 2010, 11:55

    Very interesting report, John.
    I hope you’re going to write a post-race article as well, it’ll be fascinating.

    • Andy W said on 19th October 2010, 13:23

      I would love to see a post race article as well, and maybe a couple of blogs as the week and weekend develop…

  8. Great report. Finaly something more from “down there”. And the quality of tarmac? I mean is it flat as mirror or with bumbps or no one knows?

  9. Funkyf1 said on 19th October 2010, 13:34

    Thanks John, hope you have a great incident free weekend. Bring on FP1

  10. Have a safe weekend john, from a fellow marshal.

  11. John Booker said on 19th October 2010, 14:21

    Thanks for the nice comments eveyone. I will try to update each night if time allows and a post race article is a definate.

    As to the track itself, I’ve driven F1 2010 (PC) and it is close but not quite accurate. Turn 3 is much tighter (but not 1st gear) as is turn 10 and an off camber approaches further around.

  12. 700 marshals for a gp!?

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 20th October 2010, 1:57

    How many marshals are needed for each GP?

    Bad that we won’t get the complete circuit with all the building & lakes that were promised in a simulation video.

  14. I think, now that we know it will go ahead. That this will be ab-so-lute-ly brilliant! … Nothing makes F1 more exciting than if something is out of the ordinary or going horribly wrong!

  15. Ronman said on 20th October 2010, 9:56

    Great Insight as usual.. thanks John and Keith…

  16. Stephen said on 20th October 2010, 22:13

    I,m bemused by BE,his demands for other race tracks seem at odds with Korea,grand stands,paddock areas,general facilities have all gone by the wayside,you might as well build a track in the middle of the desert with nothing.

    It beggars belief its been allowed to go ahead, going by the criteria required by other venues.

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