Korean International Circuit: your verdict

Grid, Korea, 2010

Despite months of doubt over whether the race would actually go ahead, and in spite of a downpour on race day, the Korean Grand Prix did take place and produced a race to remember.

So what’s the verdict on F1’s newest circuit? Is the Korean International Circuit a worthwhile addition to the calendar?

The drivers were largely positive about the new venue, albeit with some reservations over the pit lane entrance and exit.

But we should take their views with a pinch of salt – they tend to toe the PR line of praising new tracks and many were gushing in their praise before they’d even driven it.

An interesting layout

The track’s configuration is a cut above some of the bland recent additions to the calendar – particularly Yas Marina and Valencia. Turns 7/8/9, 11/12 and 17/18 were all being tackled at impressive speeds and showed off the capabilities of the cars.

The latter part of the lap was all the more interesting for being enclosed by barriers with limited run-off – though Mark Webber would surely have wished that wasn’t the case at turn 12.

The track also boasted the standard long straights bookended by tight hairpins designed to facilitate overtaking. Due to the race conditions on Sunday the jury is still out on whether they would provide overtaking opportunities in dry weather.

Of course the biggest problem with the track was that it wasn’t entirely ready. On Friday night walls were moved and kerbs raised but the concrete wasn’t fully set on the latter come practice on Saturday morning.

On top of that the drivers had to grapple with a track surface that offered very little grip. Having been laid just days earlier, the surface was oily, and dust from the ongoing construction work made matters worse.

Half a race

Already facing a tricky new track with an unpredictable surface, the drivers really didn’t need was the addition of water.

But it arrived by the bucket load on Saturday night. This caused a long and frustrating delay to the start of the race.

As happened at Fuji three years ago, Charlie Whiting in race control decided to leave the cars circulating behind the safety car for over a quarter of the race distance at the start.

Postponing a race start because of rain is one thing, but was it really necessary to waste that much time behind the safety car? You have to wonder if it was a plan to ensure the race got to at least 75% distance, allowing full points to be awarded.

Almost half the entire race distance – 26 of the 55 laps were spent behind the safety car. If the “75% race distance” rule applied to green flag running, this would have been a half-points race.

For many of those laps it seemed the track was not as wet as it had been during other recent wet races – Shanghai in 2009 and Silverstone in 2008 spring to mind.

The drivers struggled with poor visibility, which some blamed on the walled-in sections at the beginning and end of the lap. During the safety car period Jenson Button told his team:

Because of the way the track is with the walls and the stands the water isn?t going anywhere.
Jenson Button

To those watching the race who were unaware of the organisers’ master plan to erect buildings around the ‘street track’ portions of the lap it must have seemed rather strange that this brand new circuit was ill-equipped to cope with the rain.

A lot to like

But for all the problems caused by the late completion of the circuit and the dreadful weather on Sunday, there’s a lot to like about Korea’s F1 track.

The organisers have said the track will be in better shape next year but I feel that could be a mixed blessing. Even without the rain, the low-grip surface promised to make Sunday’s race an exciting one.

Will it still be there next year? Or will the surface have matured and the circuit polished into another of the sterile affairs that blight the modern F1 calendar? I hope not.

Did you go to the Korean Grand Prix? Tell us about your experience here: Korean International Circuit ?ǣ spectators? experiences

Korea International Circuit, 2010 Korean Grand Prix

Korea International Circuit, 2010 Korean Grand Prix

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70 comments on Korean International Circuit: your verdict

  1. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 28th October 2010, 2:55

    The circuit itself is the best of the Tilke Drome only thing that was missing was a Turn-8. This is it’s first year so yes when it comes around in 2011 many will have a tough time to recognize it.

    How can one can make a low grip surface?

  2. JohnBt said on 28th October 2010, 7:15

    Track is not bad overall. A dry race will be a better benchmark.

    Will there be a big problem of a very dusty track for the next 4 years because of massive construction, as the city around the circuit will only be completed in 2021.

  3. Why is it that Tilke is the only track designer? It’s like the same old, same old. I’m sure there are other designers that would bring some different creativity to the party. It’s time to start thinking out of the Tilke box.

    • David B said on 28th October 2010, 11:30

      That’s a question we’ve asked for years, here. No reply…

    • Mostly because Tilke doesn’t just design tracks. His company is usually the one that constructs them too. And of his construction projects, they’ve all been delivered on time and with quality (unlike Korea…)

      • Chris Yu Rhee said on 28th October 2010, 15:21

        “And of his construction projects, they’ve all been delivered on time and with quality (unlike Korea…)”

        And I thought that I was the only one that noticed this…

        Does anyone think that they should move the safety walls on the left side of the track just before the main straight? I was completely stunned to see the drivers going up on the curbs right next to the wall. Someone’s gonna hit that wall hard eventually.

  4. arulworld said on 28th October 2010, 11:35

    its very exciting and intresting circuit for both drivers and fans.

  5. daykind said on 28th October 2010, 13:48

    As I said to my father after the race, I think the rain deprived us of an interesting race.

    No, the rain helped give us the great race! I loved it but I was worried concerned about the lack of fans until 20 minutes after the race began.

  6. I love the first three straights and the last three corners. The rest… not so much.

    Yeongam is the Asian Magny-Cours. Some corners based on details from other tracks, produces some pretty good racing, but will struggle being in the middle of nowhere.

    And if you’re wondering why the stands were full on raceday – students were given free tickets and government employees were required to sell tickets.


    • Chris Yu Rhee said on 28th October 2010, 15:35

      The race could have been a great chance for Korea to show off, but instead became an embarrassment.

      “The event was plagued by ticketing chaos, clueless volunteers, shoddy infrastructure and a shortage of hotels in the area that forced employees of Mercedes-Benz to sleep in love motel rooms for which they were charged $310 per night. (The normal rate is 30,000 to 50,000 won, or $26.80 to $44.70.)”

      Unfortunately, this is what I expected. I’ve lived here too long to expect anything different.
      Hearing stories about hotels “letting out” their paying guests’ rooms during the day, and having their guests find the resultant used condoms etc. in their rooms when they get back at night.

      Uncle Bernie should have pulled the plug in August, September at the latest.

      I live here, and decided to go camping instead and record the race on my VCR.

      My LazyBoy recliner was so comfortable, I could pause the race for “pit stops”, fast forward through the laps led by the safety car, and I wasn’t getting rained on…

      Maybe next year I’ll go. Maybe.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th October 2010, 20:53

        One question, did you actually get to record the complete race with the delays and all?

        • Chris Yu Rhee said on 1st November 2010, 5:51

          I ran out of tape on the live broadcast, then my satellite went on the fritz when I tried to record the second broadcast, but finally recorded the third broadcast the following Wednesday @ 2:30AM. I had to avoid all news sources and all my F1 e-mails until I watched the tape.

          It was ok because I actually didn’t have time to wath the race until Thursday night anyways… LOL

          • BasCB said on 1st November 2010, 11:47

            Wow, quite an adventure there :-D

            Good thing you got several chances for taping it! I hope you enjoyed it after zapping past the first 16 laps, I think it was well worth the trouble.

  7. nannini said on 28th October 2010, 23:36

    Good track. Er, the track was great. The drivers said so too.

  8. Randy said on 29th October 2010, 6:43

    Well, I was there and I have to say, beside of the weather condition, the chaos on Saturday when we try to leave the track, the lack of infrastructure, I like the track. We had a fantastic view from our Grand Stand. I have to admit that for the 1st. GP Korea was not really ready. Some thought they are going to an Opera with wearing high heels -:)or they brought their 1 year old baby to the track. Well, lets hope this will change in 2011. I am sure that the Korean will do everything to improve the conditions.
    Overall it was a good weekend and race, at least for me.



  9. Zayan said on 30th October 2010, 18:32

    Turns 5 and 6 ruin the first sector, but the rest of the track is epic:D

    Turn 17/18 could probably become as iconic as Turn 8!

  10. SF Bay Area F1 Fan said on 31st October 2010, 1:34

    Chris – Yes, Ghiradelli’s, North Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, and Laguna Seca are all alive and thriving in the Bay Area.

    I would really like to find out if anyone on F1 Fanatic knows the real reason why Tilke has been involved in most (if not every) F1 tracks developed in the last decade. I don’t buy the explanation that his is the only company that can deliver projects on time. I design and construct freeways and roadways in California, and there are dozens of well-established Engineers/Architects/Construction Contractors just here in California who meet or beat schedules on multi-billion dollar projects every year. Why, really, is competition from other designers not entertained? In any other arena, this would be considered outright nepotism.

    By the way, surprise of surprises, Tilke is already involved with the upcoming circuit in Texas!

    • Chris Yu Rhee said on 1st November 2010, 6:03

      I think it’s a matter of supply and demand.

      It takes a lot of effort to cozy up to the FIA, and since they aren’t building new tracks every day, it isn’t worth the time. Sort of like the construction market in Calif.

      Turner, Morley, Kiewit, etc., have strongholds in their respective areas that are hard to infiltrate.

      Racetrack design is probably a much more close-knit group of contractors and customers than public works.

      Man, I don’t miss doing construction in Calif!

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