Vettel favourite to continue his winning ways in Korea

2013 Korean Grand Prix preview

Start, Korea, 2012Formula One has not made life easy for itself as it tries to establish a foothold in South Korea. In three years the race promoters have squandered over ??100m on the event.

It’s not difficult to see why. The Korea International Circuit, a typical dreary Hermann Tilke clone, is stamped on the indifferent countryside almost 200 miles from the capital Seoul.

A telling sign of the lack of local enthusiasm for the event is that for F1′s fourth visit there remains just a single category on the support bill. Local fans report there is little in the way of promotion.

If that is unlikely to raise your anticipation for the weekend ahead, the championship situation is not likely to help matters. Sebastian Vettel’s hat-trick of wins since since the summer break has realistically destroyed his rivals’ hopes of beating him.

Another win this weekend could see him head to Japan ready to clinch the crown. That being the case, thoughts are increasingly turning to preparing for next year.

There is an outside chance the growing tropical storm Fitow could arrive in the region in time for the race. However the developing weather forecast increasingly projects the path of the storm will be away from the vicinity of the circuit.

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 Medium and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Korea track data in full

Pirelli are bringing the same tyre combination that was used in Singapore – super-soft and medium tyres – the former being a viable choice despite Korea’s medium-to-high speed corners because the track surface offers minimal grip.

It’s another sign of how little the track gets used. That, and the ‘provisional’ notification besides next year’s race on the FIA’s 2014 calendar, is a further sign F1 might not be making many more visits to South Korea.

Korean Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Vettel scored a hat-trick of wins in Singapore and is aiming for the same in Korea this weekend. He’s led all bar 12 of the 165 laps raced at this track. Had it not been for an engine failure while he was leading in 2010, no one else would have won this race, so he has to start the weekend as favourite.

Team mate Mark Webber begins the race on the back foot as he has a ten-place grid penalty having earned his third reprimand of the season in Singapore.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Singapore, 2013As Vettel draws further out of reach Ferrari will be making greater use of this weekend’s practice sessions to prepare for next year.

“For 2014, because of the much larger changes to the cars on the engine side and also the aero aspect, it?s naturally much harder to test components now,” said technical director Pat Fry, “but there will be some small development bits we can run during this year?s remaining free practice, looking more on the reliability front than anything else, which means we have busy Fridays planned for the next six races.”

McLaren

Sergio Perez is in need of a strong result this weekend after a few indifferent races and amid some doubts over his future at the team. He hasn’t scored a point in his previous two visits to Korea.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean had a luckless weekend in Singapore: his practice running was riddled with technical problems, despite which he nonetheless qualified third, only to retire with engine problems while he was on course for a podium finish.

“Hopefully there won?t be a repeat of any of the issues we suffered in Singapore,” he said. “It would be nice to have some better luck and have a straightforward Friday, another good qualifying result and then a strong finish on Sunday.”

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Singapore, 2013The contest between Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ standings is one of the more interesting aspects of the championship at the moment. Mercedes tend to qualify better but come under pressure from the red cars on Sunday. However they were unable to keep up with the flying Red Bulls in Singapore.

Sauber

This time last year Nico Hulkenberg and Force India were really flying and he enjoyed one of his best races of the season, putting a fine double pass on Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjan on the way.

Force India

Paul di Resta admitted “the disappointment still feels quite fresh” after his late-race retirement during the Singapore Grand Prix – which cost the time a vital chance to reduce the points gap to McLaren.

“When you have a race like that you just want to get back in the car as soon as possible,” he added.

Williams

Pastor Maldonado had one of his better races of the season so far in the last race and is aiming to score the team’s second points finish of the year: “I was close to finishing in the points in Singapore and we will be looking to learn from that race and make the adjustments needed to challenge for a top ten finish.”

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso expect the Korean circuit to suit the STR8 – with Sauber looking ever more threatening they need it to.

Caterham

Charles Pic says he never really found a balance he was happy with on his car at Singapore. Caterham remain ahead of Marussia on pace at the moment but the 13th place finish they need to move ahead in the championship continues to elude them.

Marussia

Max Chilton was the first of the Marussia drivers to cross the line last weekend and he wants to build on that result: “I feel there is a real momentum building now which I am obviously keen to maintain,” he said.

2013 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 2.38 1.92 1 4 12/13 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.00 5.25 2 15 12/13 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 5.69 3.25 1 8 12/13 Form guide
Felipe Massa 8.15 6.55 3 15 11/13 Form guide
Jenson Button 9.77 8.92 5 17 13/13 Form guide
Sergio Perez 11.15 10.85 6 20 13/13 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 7.38 4.67 1 11 12/13 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 8.85 8.50 3 19 10/13 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 4.00 6.18 1 19 11/13 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 3.38 4.77 1 12 13/13 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 11.00 10.36 5 15 11/12 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 16.85 14.00 11 20 11/13 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.31 10.10 4 20 10/13 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 11.08 10.30 5 16 10/13 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 15.92 13.30 10 17 10/13 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 15.46 13.75 11 16 12/13 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 13.23 10.75 6 14 8/13 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 10.38 11.60 7 18 10/13 Form guide
Charles Pic 19.85 16.45 14 19 11/13 Form guide
Giedo van der Garde 19.38 17.00 14 21 11/13 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 19.23 16.73 13 19 11/13 Form guide
Max Chilton 20.54 17.77 14 20 13/13 Form guide

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2013 Korean Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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58 comments on Vettel favourite to continue his winning ways in Korea

  1. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:49

    Looking forward to a contest for pole position . It would be great if someone manages to close the gap to Seb like in singapore qualifying . If a merc takes pole , then possibly some entertainment for a few corners in the opening laps . Can Alonso qualify in the second row or third row this weekend ? That could spice up things a bit.

  2. tmax (@tmax) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:51

    Korea along with Japan, India and Abu Dhabi has been some good tracks for RBR. It remains to be seen if they carry over the Singapore dominance to Korea. If that is the case rest of the teams will completely give up 2013.

  3. Now that Seb has got “TC” it will be much easier :) Seriously, people like Minardi always try to undermine Vettel performance. Most of F1 cars make those strange sounds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJyrz8m84cU&feature=player_embedded#t=3m05s

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:18

      Here’s the reference to the original article for those who don’t know what this is about:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/09/28/f1-fanatic-round-up-2809/comment-page-1/#comment-1367292

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:38

      Actually James Allen had an interesting but “sane” take on the issue. Some believe it is a mapping technology which is within the rules that allows a kind of exhaust blowing effect to which Vettel is accustomed to while some others say it is simple cylinder deactivation to enable pumping of exhausts . But , to label it Traction Control would be nonsense !

      • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 2nd October 2013, 17:50

        @hamilfan
        I agree with you, i don’t believe that Red Bull are using an illegal TC system, they are smart enough to take this kind of risk when they already have the WDC & WCC in their hands
        In this case as you mentioned it is all about engine mapping technology so the credit also goes to Renault sport, many people thinks that the Renault engine is not as good as both the Mercedes & the Ferrari engines, well it is the opposite even with the “engine freeze regime” the Renault engines is the most sophisticated engine on the grid Renault modified it many times of course under the FIA’s agreement for reliability issues we all remember back in 2011 that the off-throttle exhaust activity was made for reliability issues but the real purpose was to blow exhaust gases to the diffuser, the “fuel variation system” which transmit the fuel between 2 tanks for reliability issues (it caused Sebastian Vettel’s penalty in Abu Dhabi 2012) and the reason behind it was to keep the optimum ride height of the car, i remember that at the beginning of this year they asked the FIA for an engine modification but the FIA refused it
        I’m not surprised why the Renault V6 engines are the most expensive ones something like 4 million more than the Mercedes V6 and 6 to 8 million more than the Ferrari V6 (if i’m correct)

    • It’s quite entertaining to see the elaborate technological excuses people come up with to try to explain Vettel’s winning. I can’t believe nobody has yet suggested a bottle of NO2 under his seat.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd October 2013, 0:19

      I think it is both rude and arrogant for people who have no connection to F1 to belittle Mr. Minardi for making observations and questioning how 1 driver, and only 1 driver, demonstrated such superiority at the Singapore GP. The fact that Mr. Minardi was never able to bring his team to the forfront says more about how funding begets success and success begets even more funding than it does about Mr. Minardis knowledge of and passion for F1, he is a knowledgeable observer who asked questions, not a one-eyed fan screaming “Foul”.

      • Malik (@malik) said on 3rd October 2013, 2:38

        It seems that he missed the qualifying and the race. In the qualifying Vettel saved a set of supersoft tyres for the race. In the race Alonso finished ahead of Raikkonen by 11.3 seconds though both of them were on the same strategy.

  4. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 2nd October 2013, 12:59

    I actually quite like the Yeongam circuit, well, the 2nd and 3rd sectors. Even though it doesn’t get the best reception.

    The second sector has a couple of mighty corners, and from then on it’s very fast and flowing. It’s quite spectacular to see a Formula 1 car go through there.

    • SatchelCharge (@satchelcharge) said on 2nd October 2013, 16:24

      I agree the track itself is very cool.

    • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 2nd October 2013, 19:55

      I too really like the track. It’s just in the wrong place, in the middle of a field close to an industrial area far from Seoul. It’s got no atmosphere or local support, which are two underrated but important factors in whether a track is successful. Vettel’s domination hasn’t helped either but I don’t hold that against the track itself.

  5. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:00

    The form guide makes for depressing reading for Webber.

  6. Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:07

    all Tilke tracks are suitable with RB philosophy anyway…

  7. Howard (@howard) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:31

    Bernie couldn’t entice Hyundai to enter F1 and use the Yeongam circuit as it’s test track so i wonder what’s next?
    The current promoters of this race are just arrogant and clueless to say the least.
    I wonder how the proposed Williams/Lamborghini backed F1 circuit in Incheon is coming along, have they got a deal done?

  8. Julien (@jlracing) said on 2nd October 2013, 13:53

    Let’s hope someone can overtake Vettel at the first lap, and the change is big with 2 long straights just after the start, I think it’ll be an interesting race then.

  9. I must by one of the very few that actually like this circuit!!

    C’mon Fernando!

  10. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 2nd October 2013, 15:41

    No way I’m staying up/walking up at 3am to watch this race.

    There’s no point… I’ll just watch the replay at 9 am.

  11. The Torro Rosso form guide really highlights their inconsistency, only 5 races where both cars finished :/

  12. Himmat said on 2nd October 2013, 16:23

    Race worst = 4th says it all for Vettel. And he retired just the once outside of that.

  13. The Korea International Circuit, a typical dreary Hermann Tilke clone

    Ah come on, the track itself is fine. Where it’s located is a different matter, but if you could lift it up and drop it down somewhere in Europe, everyone would love it.

    • FullSpe3d (@dryyoshi) said on 2nd October 2013, 16:46

      I wouldn’t say so.. the track certainly is very bland and can definitely be considered a Tilkedrome.. Long straights and car park run off areas are his speciality. I wouldn’t say it has much to do with the location, look at Valencia for example.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd October 2013, 19:17

      @jonsan It’s the usual five-and-a-bit kilometres, it has the usual straights-and-hairpins, it has the usual perfunctory squiggly bit…

      It’s not the worst track on the calendar but there’s nothing special about it and it is very similar to other Tilke circuits. I think ‘typical dreary clone’ is a fair characterisation.

      • I have yet to see a racing track not composed of straights, hairpins, and squiggly bits. Short of putting some upside-down bits in there (as I used to do with my scalextric as a boy) there is not a whole lot of variety possible in race tracks. Although they do say that F1 cars generate enough downforce that they could be driven upside down, so …. hmm….. anyone have Tilke’s phone number?

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd October 2013, 2:37

          @jonsan Spa has 1 tight harpin only. So does Silverstone. So does Montmelo. So does Suzuka.

          Korea on the other hand has 3. So does India, so does Valencia… the “pointy” tracks on the calendar (those with long straights and tight corners right after) are all from Tilke…

          At first glance, they all look the same. That’s why drivers talk about tracks that “flow” and you get a “rythmn” going, instead of stop-and-go tracks like this one.

      • tigen (@tigen) said on 2nd October 2013, 23:36

        Based on video game driving I found Yeongam one of the more enjoyable circuits. There’s a good mix of high speed swooping and technical bits, and it’s rewarding to try getting the best exit out of the corners. There are couple of surprising/nonintuitive corners and the final bit onto the start/finish is fairly unique. The long straights aren’t as easy as they look: the corner between them is important and IIRC there’s a bit of KERS strategy to think of.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd October 2013, 0:28

      Actually it’s on my TV screen which I consider an excellent location and usually it provides an enjoyable race.

  14. Urvaksh (@thedoctor03) said on 2nd October 2013, 16:28

    I, for one, quite enjoy Korea. It has wide straights and sector 1 feels great to drive on. Again, I might be biased here because it is one track where Vettel has been very successful on, but judging by his performance in the past few races it is highly unlikely someone will beat him. But again, you never know what happens with the typhoon.

  15. The second and third sectors are decent enough, but they also are coincidentally the perfect formula for Red Bull domination. Webber should be interesting to watch with his 10 place grid penalty and perhaps an engine change penalty also (I’m not sure whether it did the required number of races, so he might have to incur one at some point later in the season).

    Pole position might be an interesting battle but Vettel has the odds stacked very much in his favour for battle for the victory.

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 2nd October 2013, 17:18

      There are no engine penalties, as long as he uses one of his 8 engines and not a 9th. Im sure he has a decent engine saved up somewhere, so should be no problem. As for the gearbox, he’s allowed to get a new once since his last one did 5 races.

      The 10-place grid penalty is a b**ch though :)

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