Korean Grand Prix – a shambles

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Ned Flanders 6 years, 12 months ago.

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    So, they finally “finished” the circuit, or least opened enough of it for a race to take place. The “F1 Zone” hotels in Mokpo were fairly well marked, although provided misinformation (“no vacancy Mokpo, go Gwangju”) said one hotel, although we found a vacancy in a hotel directly opposite.

    The shuttle buses TO the circuit were fine – a line of buses departing regularly from Mokpo bus terminal with a travel time of approximately 25 minutes. On Saturday, the buses back were terrible – my friends boarded a shuttle bus after qualifying, which first went the wrong way, then back to the circuit, then tried to drop them off in the middle of nowhere, before finally dumping them in a car park on the outside of Mokpo (much to the protestations of Koreans and foreigners alike) which required a taxi ride back.

    Upon arrival at the circuit on Sunday, I found a mass of muddy gravel, a few stalls selling F1 merchandise, very little in the way of food (and certainly no traditional Korean food) and a lot of confusion. I went to collect my ticket from the ticket box, only to be pulled to one side and asked to wait. A few minutes later someone asked me “can I help you?” I explained that they had taken my receipt and told me to wait, I was then informed that my ticket had “not arrived in Korea” yet and that my grandstand (J) had not yet been built. I was advised to walk through a certain gate, and then tell each person who queried me that I had “given my receipt number to the main gate” and that they should let me through, into the grandstand that I had apparently been moved to (F, although this alternative grandstand changed depending on who I asked, usually alternating between F, G, B, E and H).

    Some of the temporary grandstands were actually closed during Sunday, and spectators were moved due to safety concerns. Certain parts of barriers hadn’t been attached, it was suddenly noticed The underside of them was a muddy mess, with a muddy carpet laid down on top of it.

    Toilets were sparse and dirty, with large queues throughout. One that I used had no running water to watch hands. One of the marshals actually relieved himself in front of us onto the grass next to a portaloo.

    Korean news reports seemed to suggest also that some people with tickets were being turned away – presumably because they didn’t have enough grandstands completed. The race itself was marred by a constant stream of Koreans leaving the grandstands to go home – presumably because they sick of waiting for a race that just refused to start. We too were sick of this, especially as it did not seem very wet. I’ve seen races started in far worse conditions than this. It was not a good first introduction to F1 for many Koreans.

    Finally, after the race, we emerged into a dark, muddy, floodlit car-park to find no shuttle buses. First sent one way, and then another, we set off through the puddles to find a shuttle bus, hopefully back to Gwangju, although we had had no confirmation about whether this bus actually existed. The backup plan was to get a bus to Mokpo, then a bus to Gwangju and then finally the bus home to Ulsan. Before we found the shuttle buses however, a Korean man called us over and waved us onto a bus to Gwangju. We had spoken to him earlier and explained our plight, and when we found a bus to Gwangju he came running over to tell us. An absolute life-saver!

    The rain was not their fault. The mud could have been better managed. The toilets, the grandstands, the organisation, the information, the communication and the traffic management needs to be improved MASSIVELY before next year, because this weekend’s event was a shambles, and not what is expected of new additions to the Formula One calendar.

    Some pics here: http://koreanadventures.posterous.com/the-korean-gp

    What did everyone else who went think of it?


    Fer no.65

    “The rain was not their fault”

    probably… but they should have expected a rainy weekend. Remember they were delayed for 51 days because of the rain.

    It’s not like it’s Barhain and it hardly rains.

    I was quite mad at waking up early, but i feel a lot better because i didn’t have to suffer like that, mate!



    i agree with pretty much all the points made, but now that the dust has settled i am finding it hard to be too insulting to the koreans on this one.

    yes the transport was a major issue, yes there were very few facilities on site, yes the ticket situation was a complete sham, but with a bit of perserverance and positivity it was still very possible to have a fantastic weekend (which we did).

    to continue with the negatives – the transport was a major issue. pretty much a one road in, one road out situation does not allow for that number of people to travel freely to and from the site. the saturday was far worse, and all we could think was that a simple bus lane would have solved a major part of the problem. on the saturday we too took the shuttle bus back to mokpo. it was going so slowly that we stopped the bus and walked it. a fair distance but was a nice bit of fresh air!

    the tickets was the most laughable thing. on the saturday we arrived in mokpo at 8.30am however we still ended up being late for qualifying at 2pm! went to the correct grandstand where they said we could not redeem our ticket voucher. but they didnt know where to send us. after a while they sent us to the main grandstand (the complete other side of the circuit). when we got there we asked the stewards where to go to which there response was “i don’t know, im just a volunteer”. not great. after much deliberation we got some useful advice, foudn the tickets and made it to our seats.

    the ticket problem was escalated for many by the closure of the j grandstand. this basically meant it was a free for all for people with those tickets to get into a different stand. we got into the f grandstand with some perfect seats, far better than we would have had in j.

    facilites wise, a portaloo and portable family mart does not quite suffice.

    as for the rain, i have to agree – it was barely a light drizzle. i think they were stuck between not wanting some nasty crash on their first f1, but then also obviously realising that they had to have some racing. a tricky position to be in, and so can understand their position fully.

    for those people staying in gwangju instead of mokpo, i can only ask WHY?? maybe you chose hear if you wanted a quiet weekend. maybe you stayed here as part of a package deal. maybe you were misinformed that gwangju had any link to the f1 at all. but as you are now aware, it didnt. it was miles away. and mokpo had all of the fantastic festivities over the weekend.

    as for those who left early, MORE FOOL YOU! yes, it was slow going at the start but what came of it was possibly the most exciting race of the year so far and a real turning point in the season. a very korean attitude im afraid. if they dont see immediate results then they’re not happy. if the race had been in the dry, and the result decided pretty much after the first few laps with all the cars plodding through unchallenged, then i guarantee the same number of koreans would have been leaving too.

    one thing we all noticed was that we stopped and looked around, we had no idea we were in korea. no traditional festivities, or food etc. they need to celebrate their traditions and highlight them to the f1 world! again, another detail which was probably put on the backburner as more pressing matters (building a race track) took over.

    so for next year, they need to sort out (and im sure they will)

    – the transport (new roads are being built and a bus lane must be employed).

    – tickets – quite a simple problem to fix through increased communication and planning

    – facilities – i am sure ongoing work will be in place for permanent toilets, restaurants, bars, entertainment

    – less muddy gravel! – a simple task of paving and concreting.

    – finish all of the grandstands – an obvious solution that will certainly happen

    so yes, maybe they werent perfect. yes they werent ready and yes there is a lot to work on. but thankyou for doing your best to make it a fantastic weekend for us.

    happy happy happy!!!



    We stayed in Mokpo in the end, but from the information we had before setting off, it wasn’t clear whether we should be heading to Mokpo or Gwangju. Perhaps you found some better information! Gwangju had much better transport links, hence why we needed to get there.

    And you’re right about the roads – they just aren’t up for that kind of traffic.

    The race was certainly enjoyable, and I will be returning next year. I should imagine the place will be completely transformed by next year.

    Oh, and they couldn’t even get the race order / car number tower thing working!


    Prisoner Monkeys

    The race itself was marred by a constant stream of Koreans leaving the grandstands to go home – presumably because they sick of waiting for a race that just refused to start. We too were sick of this, especially as it did not seem very wet. I’ve seen races started in far worse conditions than this.

    The concern was not the rain – it was the surface. The puddles of standing water combined with the fresh tarmac meant that the surface was incredibly slippery. Had the race been started sooner, we would have had a lot more Webber/Rosberg incidents.



    Oh dear… I didn’t realise it was so bad! We only saw the race on TV and didn’t realise the troubles experienced by people who were actually at the circuit – so thank you for sharing this story, I always enjoy hearing what it was actually like at the circuit. I am sure they’ll have it right next year. :)


    Ned Flanders

    Wow… seems like there is a LOT of work to do

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