This weekend, the Formula 1 circus will open for business on the outskirts of Mokpo for the fourth edition of the Korean Grand Prix. With the country’s increasing importance in the motor industry, it’s easy to see why it was felt that staging a grand prix there would be a good idea.
However, people’s opinion of the event has been coloured by the lack of hotels and the long trek by car, train or local flight from the capital Seoul to the port of Mokpo, in the Province of Yeongam. That’s a shame, because the biggest plus about the weekend is the track itself, which runs anti-clockwise and with 18 corners, present an interesting challenge.
The first section has a range of high speed corners and a straight that is over a kilometre in length, but then in complete contrast, the second part is all tight turns and twisty bits, with walls near the side of the track – this was meant to be a part-street circuit in a town, except that they never built the town.
Because of the long straights, good braking is an important factor here, as is traction out of the slower turns. The three races held to date have been won by the two men who head this year’s drivers’ table, as Fernando Alonso won the opening event back in 2010, while the last two years have seen Sebastian Vettel first past the post.
The inaugural race had to be started behind the Safety Car, so heavy was the rain and the grand prix ended in virtual darkness. In 2011, Jean-Eric Vergne made his first appearance for us, driving in a wet FP1. Last year, he scored points by finishing eighth, one place ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. On paper, the characteristics of the Yeongam circuit should suit the STR8 well, so we are hoping for a good weekend, when one of the keys will be how the tyres perform on what is a very abrasive surface, assuming that it’s not raining, of course.
That abrasive surface has led to a more conservative tyre choice from Pirelli for this year: drivers will have a choice of Supersoft or Medium, whereas last year, the softest tyre in the Italian company’s arsenal was partnered with the Soft. (Toro Rosso F1)
Subbed by AJN.