Welcome to the Tilkedromes

2012 Korean Grand Prix preview

Start, Korean Grand Prix, 2011The Korean Grand Prix marks the first of four races at the newest venues on the Formula One calendar.

Korea is staging its third Grand Prix and will be followed by F1′s return to India, the fourth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and then on to the USA for the first race at the Circuit of the Americas.

This quartet are all examples of the modern Grand Prix circuit template which bear the hallmarks of F1 architect Hermann Tilke’s designs.

They all feature long, wide straights bookended by slow corners intended to create opportunities for overtaking. Besides their location and architecture, they differ mainly in the detail of sequences of corners that make up the remainder of the lap.

Korea features a few quick corners including the left/right flick at turns seven and eight, and the 180-degree left-hander turn 11. After that the tempo of the track reduces slightly and the drivers also find they have less room to make mistakes.

On the original plan, the final sector was to be surrounded by buildings. They haven’t appeared yet, but the less generous run-off means an error in this part of the lap is more severely punished.

Korea circuit information

Lap length 5.621km (3.493 miles)
Distance 55 laps (309km/192 miles)
Lap record* 1’39.605 (Sebastian Vettel, 2011)
Fastest lap 1’35.585 (Sebastian Vettel, 2010)
Tyres Soft and Super–soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Korea track data in full

There is little action to be seen at the track besides F1 which has an effect on the surface, as Timo Glock explains:

“Every year this is a bit of a strange race weekend because the track is not used very often outside of Formula 1. This makes it difficult on a Friday in particular as the track is always quite dirty and takes a while to come up to grip level.”

As a result Pirelli have brought their softest tyres for this race, despite the quick corners in the middle of the lap: “Korea has the highest lateral energy loadings of all the circuits where we use the super-soft tyre,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery.

The vast majority of drivers made two pit stops during last year’s race. The softer rubber produced a significant amount of marbles which made conditions treacherous for those who ventured off-line.

It also caused other problems. A chunk of rubber lodged in Lewis Hamilton’s front wing, disrupting the airflow and causing handling problems which left him scrapping furiously with Mark Webber to hold onto second.

The pit lane exit caused problems during last year’s Grand Prix. During second practice Nico Rosberg ran wide at the first corner and his Mercedes hit the Toro Rosso of Jamie Alguersuari as he was leaving the pits.

Korean Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012The question Red Bull’s rivals will be asking is how much their performance in Suzuka was down to the track suiting their car, and how much of it was down to their recent upgrades.

Among the new components on the RB8 at Suzuka was a Double DRS rear wing, improving the car’s straight-line speed, which has previously been a weakness. That should make life easier for them on Korea’s long straights and those at subsequent Tilke tracks as well.

Their most significant weakness this year has been alternator failures, which they are particularly susceptible to at circuits with slow corners. Korea has six turns taken at less than 100kph (62mph), so expect them to pay close attention to this potential vulnerability.

Sebastian Vettel’s victory at Suzuka moved him within striking distance of Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ championship, with just four points separating them now. A repeat of his 2011 Korea victory would put him clear in front for the first time since April.

McLaren

Neither McLaren driver made it onto the podium in Japan, failing to make the most of an opportunity to significantly reduce their deficit to Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton took pole position at Korea last year and feels he is due a victory at the track: “I think we?ve had the potential to win both Korean Grands Prix in the past, but I?ve never had a race weekend there on which everything has gone quite right for me.”

Ferrari

Ferrari’s potential in Japan was disguised by misfortune in qualifying and Alonso’s first-lap retirement. The team believe the car was quick enough to qualify on the second row, but Alonso lost time due to Kimi Raikkonen’s spin, then caught Vettel at the chicane.

His race ended at the first corner. But Felipe Massa enjoyed a strong race and the ease with which he was able to leapfrog Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi at the first round of pit stops demonstrated that the F2012′s race pace was very good indeed.

That should give them cause for optimism heading to Korea, where Alonso won in 2010, delivering a devastating blow to Vettel’s championship hopes.

Mercedes

With one car compromised by a grid penalty and the other eliminated at the start, Suzuka was a point-less weekend for Mercedes.

Michael Schumacher is optimistic about the potential of the W03 at this circuit: “The basic characteristics should be more favourable for us than in Japan,” he said.

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Suzuka, 2012Lotus will become the latest team to introduce a ‘Coanda’ exhaust at the Korean Grand Prix. They will be hoping for better success with this than their Double DRS, the introduction of which has been repeatedly postponed.

This is Kimi Raikkonen’s first visit to Korea, so he will need to avoid a repeat of the problems he experienced during practice at Suzuka and spend time getting up to speed on the track.

Team mate Romain Grosjean finds himself in the spotlight again over his driving following another first-lap tangle in Japan. Above all else, his priority for this weekend must be to avoid getting in any more trouble.

Force India

Vijay Mallya is pleased with his team’s progress ahead of their home race, which follows Korea: “We have scored points in the last four races, including two fourth places, and we?ve already scored more points than we did during the whole of last year.

“Our car will suit some tracks more than others, but as long as we keep picking up the points we can keep the pressure on the teams around us. Korea should be good for us and hopefully Abu Dhabi and India.”

Sauber

After the high of Kobayashi’s podium at Suzuka, Sauber admit they are facing a more difficult race at Korea. The long straights are a particular concern, as Sergio Perez explains: “Because we are usually lacking a bit of straight-line speed, it won?t be an easy Grand Prix for us.”

However the two cars should fare better than last year, when they could only manage a lapped 15th and 16th.

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Korea, 2011This is the first track on the calendar that Jean-Eric Vergne already has experience of from an F1 weekend. Unfortunately the practice session he drove for Toro Rosso last year was so wet he completed just nine laps.

Daniel Ricciardo has been on a good run of form since returning from the summer break. He’d have scored in all of the last four races had he not run out of fuel at the Parabolica on the last lap at Monza.

Williams

Williams’ chief operations engineer Mark Gillan says the team’s objective for Korea is “to get both cars home in the points” – something they’ve only managed once so far this year.

Pastor Maldonado has tended to do particularly well on tracks where the super-soft tyre is used this year, so look out for him making an appearance in Q3 again, and perhaps even getting among the championship contenders.

Caterham

Giedo van der Garde will drive for the team again during the first practice session, taking over from Vitaly Petrov.

HRT

Narain Karthikeyan will have to give up his car for the first practice session once more as Dani Clos gets another outing. Although Karthikeyan didn’t drive in last year’s race, he did have a run in first practice, so this won’t be his first time on the circuit.

Marussia

Marussia have reduced the gap to Caterham in recent races and have a fair shot at holding on to the tenth place in the constructors’ championship they claimed in Singapore.

2012 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 4.6 5.07 1 22 14/15 Form guide
Mark Webber 7.07 6.8 1 20 15/15 Form guide
Jenson Button 6.33 7.79 1 18 14/15 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 5.07 5.42 1 19 12/15 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 6.2 3.62 1 9 13/15 Form guide
Felipe Massa 10.73 9.14 2 16 14/15 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 9.2 7.63 3 11 8/15 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 9.07 7.86 1 15 14/15 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.07 5.33 2 14 15/15 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 6.71 7.56 2 19 9/14 Form guide
Paul di Resta 10.93 9.36 4 14 14/15 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 12.47 10.64 4 21 14/15 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 10.47 9.5 3 18 12/15 Form guide
Sergio Perez 12.4 7.91 2 14 11/15 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 13.93 12.29 9 17 14/15 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 16.73 12.75 8 16 12/15 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 11 11.73 1 19 11/15 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.67 12.5 6 22 14/15 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.07 16.64 13 23 14/15 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.87 16.58 13 19 12/15 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.64 19.33 17 22 12/14 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23.14 20.13 15 23 8/14 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.43 17.08 12 22 13/14 Form guide
Charles Pic 21.27 17.91 15 20 11/15 Form guide
Jerome D’Ambrosio 15 13 13 13 1/1 Form guide

Are you going to the Korean Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Korea for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

You can embed your pictures from the race via Flickr and videos via YouTube and other major video-sharing accounts. Join in here:

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Korean Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2012 Korean Grand Prix

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85 comments on Welcome to the Tilkedromes

  1. silencer (@silencer) said on 10th October 2012, 10:56

    I thought it was Kovalainen that geido is replacing on FP1 this coming friday

  2. matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th October 2012, 11:01

    The biggest problem with this race is that the track and surroundings are completely Seoul-less…

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th October 2012, 11:21

      @matt90 or Gangnam-less?

    • MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 10th October 2012, 15:43

      @matt90 Yeah the track doesn’t get a lot of people PSY-ched about the race.

    • thejudge13 (@thejudge13) said on 10th October 2012, 17:51

      +1 @matt90

      Why is GP held 4-5 hours drive from nearest international airport, in a town with 250,000 people, when Seoul has a population of nearly 10,000,000? It appears Ecclestone in 1996 struck a deal for them to race in Kunsan City much nearer Seoul for 1998-2002 but the track never got built. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-5i

      It seems like most the F1 circus don’t want to go there and stay in Japan or Seoul as long as possible. @f1photographer tweeted today, “Fantastic 3 days in Seoul. Early train to Mokopoko tomorrow. Like being in London then heading to Shetland Is for an F1 GP”.

      Eason today says, “The first job will be to check the fridge. That will be one measure of the weekend’s biggest global sporting event: curled up, mouldy sandwiches on a tray left undisturbed for a year.

      Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s chief executive, was presumably of sound mind when he signed a deal that would take the Korean Grand Prix to the metropolis of Mokpo, but then he does not have to stay in the Adam and Eve Love Motel. Or get rid of the mouldy.

      I noticed Adam Cooper was still in Japan this morning.

      Apparently the 2012 race guide published for F1 newcomers this week states, “Refuelling and ‘bumper to bumper’ racing two things to watch out for”.

      Re-fuelling? Does Michael Schumacher know this? He may change his decision to retire if so.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th October 2012, 19:16

      I liked my lazy pun before people brought up that awful, awful song. I didn’t even know who Psy was until now.

    • jameshuntleydavidson said on 10th October 2012, 21:07

      +1 @matt90

      Problem is the circuit is in a city of 250,000 people 4-5 hours drive from nearest international airport and even though the circuit has a capacity of 135,000 its less than half full.

      It appears Ecclestone originally had a deal to have a circuit built much further North, but the organisers renaged on the deal. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-9h

      Even the F1 fraternity appear as though they don’t want to be there. @f1photographer tweeted today, “Fantastic 3days in Seoul.Early train to Mokopoko tomorrow. Like being in London then heading to Shetland Is for an #f1 gp! #mad”

      Adam Cooper was still in Tokyo until this morning and Kevin Eason humorously wrote today, “The first job will be to check the fridge. That will be one measure of the weekend’s biggest global sporting event: curled up, mouldy sandwiches on a tray left undisturbed for a year.”

      “Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s chief executive, was presumably of sound mind when he signed a deal that would take the Korean Grand Prix to the metropolis of Mokpo, but then he does not have to stay in the Adam and Eve Love Motel. Or get rid of the mouldy sandwiches”.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th October 2012, 3:00

        Over 200,000 fans attended the Bathurst 1000 over the last weekend, also about 4 Hrs. drive from Sydney Airport and a lot smaller town than Mokopo. Stage a decent event and keep prices reasonable and people will attend.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th October 2012, 4:52

          You do realise that last weekend was the 50th running of the race at Bathurst, a sporting event which is firmly planted in the nation’s sporting identity, right? You can hardly compare that to the third running of the Korean Grand Prix.

          If you look at the third running of the Bathurst race – the 1965 Armstrong 500 (miles, not kilometres) – I’m fairly certain that you will find that there were considerably less than two hundred thousand people there. Especially since there were no grandstands and most of the top of the Mountain was not open to spectators.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th October 2012, 8:24

            Off course the fact that travel at the time probably cost not 4hrs but some 8-10 for most would also play a factor.

            But I think both of you make valid points here @prisoner-monkeys and @hohum. True enough being far from big cities does not have to be a permanent problem for a great track, but its not something that a track acquires from the fist race, instead it has to be built up over years by enthusiastic fans.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th October 2012, 23:07

            @prisoner-monkeys, thank you for backing up my observation, you are right “Rome was not built in a day” it will always take time to build up a following , as noted by @bascb

  3. andrew_s (@andrew_s) said on 10th October 2012, 11:25

    will be interesting to see who does the Gangnam Style dance on the podium.

  4. Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th October 2012, 11:29

    I’m really disappointed because there’s very important tests for job on Sunday that I had to cancel the ticket. Furthermore, the test schedule completely covers the race time, therefore I can’t see on TV as well. I know I have to get this done absolutely right since it is the biggest chance of my life but again I’m sure I will be concerned about the race. Please wish me luck! also it would be great if Alonso doing well!

  5. Metallion (@metallion) said on 10th October 2012, 11:58

    @keithcollantine
    “Neither McLaren driver made it onto the podium in Japan, failing to make the post of an opportunity…”
    I’m guessing that should read “the most of”

  6. smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 10th October 2012, 13:54

    Mr Tilke…zzzzzzzz

    • gilles (@gilles) said on 10th October 2012, 14:40

      Do not agree. India and Korea are very exciting flowing tracks and it’s a pleasure for a F1 “nutcase” to watch those cars going round them. Both of them I was very sceptical about but after seeing races changed my mind completely. And I have a very strong feeling Austin will be the best modern track of Formula 1.
      So Mr. Tilke kind of got into the groove recently

      • @gilles – I’m not so sure about India, last year’s race was rather processional and the attempt at creating overtaking opportunities bared no fruit. Still, I’ll wait until after this years’ race before jumping to conclusions.

        • DISCLAIMER:I’M NOT SAYING THIS JUST BECAUSE I’M INDIAN.
          Right, with that out of the way, I’d like to point out that India is a more challenging track, and the fact that the lap is short compared to other Tilkedromes(Valencia, Korea, Singapore, Abu Dhabi) reminds me a lot of the European circuits. I’m worried about the lack of overtaking opportunities though, and in that respect it is very similar to Suzuka.

        • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th October 2012, 17:42

          last year, the corners were so dirty that the drivers didn’t want to venture even though they were made wider in particular to aid overtaking… hopefully they washed or used a power vacaum the track this year

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 11th October 2012, 0:55

            I am intrigued to see how Korea and India develop as circuits.

            Korea is interesting for a Tilkedrome, driving on the Xbox earlier reminded me just how tricky it is, especially when codemasters decides that it should rain!

            India is still such an enigma, for me it was the most boring race of all last season, but I am ready to give it a second chance.

  7. Lee_GH said on 10th October 2012, 14:26

    For all the complaints about Tilke-dromes I think all the Tilke tracks have produced very good races this year & the past 2 Korean Gp’s have been pretty good as well.

    Korea is a decent circuit & a track I enjoy driving on the F1 videogames.

  8. Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 10th October 2012, 14:28

    Actually, this is one of the Tilkedromes that I do quite like, those fast corners after the long straights are nice to watch, but not to race in. Same goes for Singapore and Istanbul until last year. Nice to drive, but for racing, just a boring layout.

  9. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 10th October 2012, 14:30

    Reading the R and Q average, it’s easy to overlook what a decent season Kobayashi has had…

  10. FernanDino said on 10th October 2012, 14:45

    As you can see on the top picture of the track, you need a telescope the see the cars at turn 1 after buying an expensive ticket. Of all the Tilkedroms this one is particularly boring. But then, you know, Tilke always says that he can’t just pull the perfect track out of his tricky hat like that (wow, excellent rhyme). He says that he has to make do with all the constraints! You know, those nitty gritty things like terrain, elevation and money of course. In other words, it’s not his fault. He says.

    • Bas Weijers (@) said on 10th October 2012, 15:43

      I blame the built-in ‘safety’ in the track’s design for that…
      All new tracks have massive run-off area’s. Maybe they should elevate the stands even a bit more to create a run-off area beneath the stands and keep the stands closer to the track that way. Not very practical tho’, car catches fire underneath a stand… – no scratch that idea :p
      But well, guess all solutions by design will raise costs anyways.

      Watching the races on television is great though, I can’t say these new tracks are extra boring or so.
      I still praise this season for it’s unpredictability :) Whether it’s a Mickey Mouse circuit, an impossible-to-pass circuit, or a classic; this years action has been good on any track I’d say.

      • david d.m. said on 10th October 2012, 17:08

        Actually in Abu Dhabi one of the runoffs goes under a grandstand but because it’s still very far from the track it looks like is just a normal runoff area, a shame because it’s a good idea executed poorly.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th October 2012, 8:27

      good thing then, that the grandstands are empty enough for fans to be able to move to better spots (as described in the first hand comments in the article)!

  11. TED BELL said on 10th October 2012, 14:46

    Abu Dahbi is a fantastic layout and is at an incredible venue as night settles in. One of the best.

    • Slr (@slr) said on 10th October 2012, 16:27

      Are you serious? Abu Dhabi’s layout is easily the worst. There’s nothing unique about the track, it doesn’t flow well and the designers have failed in their attempt to create an overtaking friendly track. Abu Dhabi is a great example of how money can’t always buy a good racing circuit.

      • foleyger (@foleyger) said on 10th October 2012, 17:30

        I agree. setting is great but the track layout is poor and the track shud go

      • @slr – completely agree. They built their own island and so could have done whatever they liked pretty much, and decided to put a chicane in the middle of a straight. Who ever thought that was a good idea?

      • Lee_GH said on 10th October 2012, 18:56

        the designers have failed in their attempt to create an overtaking friendly track.

        May be true for F1 cars but every other category I’ve seen race there have put on good races with a good amount of overtaking.

        Maybe shows that its the cars more than the tracks than are hindering overtaking?

        • Slr (@slr) said on 10th October 2012, 20:18

          Maybe shows that its the cars more than the tracks than are hindering overtaking?

          I agree with that, however I get the impression that the designers wanted to make the track overtaking friendly for Formula One. The organisers considered changes to the circuit for last year’s race in reaction to the disappointing finale to the 2010 championship, so I believe that they created the track with the intention of being good for overtaing for F1 cars.

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 10th October 2012, 19:42

      The Abu Dhabi track layout is among one of Tilke’s worst miscreations. Shame the Government of Abu Dhabi paid so much for the futuristic and appealing surroundings but got a lousy track layout out of it.

      By the way, are you one of Tilke’s employees sent to this forum to create some spin and delafte the general opprobrium F1 fans have towards Tilke?

      • TED BELL said on 11th October 2012, 1:43

        No I am just a fan who really digs this track regardless of you expert opinions. It presents the cars in a great environment, the buildings, marina and layout of the track is unique and when the transistion to night occurs this place provides a unique visual experience.

        If you want to get rid of tracks that are crap, then I start the list with Singapore, what a dumb race layout, only the city at night around it makes it worthwhile. Next would be Korea or should I say “Bore-rea” what a combination of silly curves and odd straights none of which have a flow worthy for an F1 car. Then Valencia, enough said….

        The greatest tracks still are the greatest tracks….Spa, Monza and Monaco.

        Abu Dhabi is OK, not the worst and not the best. It shows the cars in a unique way.

        • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 11th October 2012, 5:42

          If you want to get rid of tracks that are crap, then I start the list with Singapore, what a dumb race layout, only the city at night around it makes it worthwhile.

          If you dismiss Singapore as a rubbish track that is in only on account of the fact that it looks nice as a night race, why not apply the same logic to Abu Dhabi?

          “If you want to get rid of tracks that are crap, i would start with Abu Dhabi; what a dumb and terribly boring race layout, only the buildings and marina around it makes it worthwhile.”

          At least Tilke can’t be reasonably blamed for the Singapore track design given the constraints he has to work with with it being a street circuit in the heart of a city. He can’t say the same for Abu Dhabi can he, he was given a blank sheet to start with and look at the sleep-inducing action his design provided.

          layout of the track is unique

          Uniquely boring you mean?

          No I am just a fan who really digs this track regardless of you expert opinions.

          No-one in this forum claims to be an expert – not me the least. They are just normal fans who want exciting races and circuits that promote overtaking. If you say Singapore is a boring race, fair enough. If people want to say Abu Dhabi is even more sleep-inducing, it is their opinion. I think i speak for many though that at least Singapore provides more overtaking opportunities that Abu Dhabi.

        • artificial racer said on 11th October 2012, 5:50

          Disagree about Korea. Korea is much more fun to drive (in video games, at least). Sector two has some high speed flowing corners. There are some strange slow corners but challenging to get right each lap. The final few corners are fast and fun. Korea is also better for overtaking, although the dirty track/marbles/weather seem to create other problems. The surrounding area is also too boring.

          The new USGP track is pretty good too, with echoes of Silverstone and Istanbul with elevation changes thrown in. Although… we already have Silverstone…

          Some of those “Tilke corners” repeat themselves though which ends up detracting from the character of each circuit. That and the grandstands being a mile away from the track.

          Abu Dhabi seems clearly the worst of the lot to me. The India track I’m less familiar with but the banking is interesting, kind of a rollercoaster/slingshot feeling.

  12. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 10th October 2012, 15:01

    The fact that you made a Public Enemy reference with the title instead of a Gangnam Style reference makes me so incredibly happy.

  13. Sem (@05abrahamsemere) said on 10th October 2012, 15:01

    Who will win Korea? I predict JB…simply because his talent and consistency is so much higher than Hamiltons. He outclassed him in 2011 and absolutely smashed him at the end of the season. At the very least, we’ll see Button finish ahead of Hamilton at the end of this season if he can’t win the title, while Hamilton will take the no.2# with him to Mercedes. While Button enjoys his rightful no.1# status…sweet : )

  14. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 10th October 2012, 15:44

    Keith, I must say the headline sounds satirical. Sorry, if that is not the case.

    • Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 11th October 2012, 5:54

      If it is meant to be satirical, then it is a justified one given that Tilke has earned so much deserved flak (and undeserved money) for designing rubbish circuits that produce hopelessly boring racing action AND is still in business when he should have been put out of his misery long ago. He keeps saying he has to work with “constraints” blah blah. Someone else should have been given a go more like, constraints or not.

      I am glad the Silverstone organizers didn’t turn to Tilke when they wanted to modify the circuit. They learnt well just by looking at the way he mangled the modification of the Hockenheim circuit.

  15. babis1980 (@babis1980) said on 10th October 2012, 17:44

    @keithcollantine

    “Team mate Romain Grosjean finds himself in the spotlight again over his driving following another first-lap tangle in Korea. Above all else, his priority for this weekend must be to avoid getting in any more trouble.”

    You mean Japan right?

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