The Big Preview: Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam

After the bright lights and street racing of Singapore, Round 14 of the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship sees the teams take on a very different technical challenge at the Korea International Circuit.

The 5.615 km track, located close to the city of Mokpo in the south of the country, is almost two circuits in one – with the first half featuring a number of high-speed sections and a long, fast 1.2 km straight and the second half comprised of tight and twisting sections featuring lower-speed corners.

As such car set-up at KIC is a compromise, with teams balancing the need for outright speed against the demands of the slow sections, where both aerodynamic and mechanical grip are of paramount importance. Finding that grip can be prove to be difficult, as the infrequently used track is normally dirty at the start of the weekend and set-ups must be constantly adjusted to meet the evolving track conditions. In short, it’s not an easy circuit to get right.

Korean Grand Prix lovelies

Korean Grand Prix lovelies

It’s the two men at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings who have had most success in that regard across the first three Korean GPs. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won the inaugural event, a rain-lashed grand prix that eventually extended to 2 hours, 48 minutes and which ended in near darkness, while current title leader Sebastian Vettel has made Red Bull Racing victorious in the last two editions.

It’s the Red Bull driver who again has the momentum this season. Vettel comes to the Yeongam region on the back of three consecutive race wins, while Alonso has played second fiddle to the German on each of those occasions. In the Constructors’ battle, meanwhile, Red Bull Racing, with 377  points, currently enjoys a commanding 103-point leader over Ferrari, with Mercedes in third place with 267 points.

Korean rapper Psy Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel the Gangnam Style dance

Korean rapper Psy, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel do the Gangnam Style dance

Korea International Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.615 km
  • Lap record: 1:39.605 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2011)
  • Start/finish line offset: 0.195 km
  • Total number of race laps: 55
  • Total race distance: 308.630 km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 80 km/h throughout the entire event weekend.

DRS Zones

  • There will be two DRS zones. The detection point of the first is 70 m after Turn 2, with activation 360 m after Turn 2. The second detection point is 60m before Turn 16 with activation 95 m after Turn 18.
Start of the 2012 Korean GP

Start of the 2012 Korean GP

Changes to circuit since 2012

  • The pit exit has been re-aligned. It now runs through the middle of the run-off area at Turn 1.
  • The kerbs at the apexes of the pit exit are double-sided, 2 x 500 mm wide and four metres in overall length with a maximum height of 25 mm.
  • The artificial grass on the exit of Turns 1, 3, 10, 13 and 15 has been replaced by a more hard-wearing product.
  • ’Sausage’ kerbs have been installed at the apex of Turns 4, 5, 9, 11, 13 and 14.
  • The verge behind the kerb at the apex of Turn 8 has been laid with concrete.
  • The entire verge between the track and the asphalt run-off area around the outside of Turn 11 has been laid with asphalt.
  • The verge at the exit of Turn 13 has been extended with asphalt.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber celebrate a Red Bull 1-2 in Korea

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber celebrate a Red Bull 1-2 in Korea

Korean Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • This will be the fourth Korean Grand Prix. The country made its F1 debut in 2010 as the 17th race of a 19-race season.
  • The Korea International Circuit is one of only five anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, the others being Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina, Austin’s Circuit of the Americas and Sao Paulo’s Interlagos.
  • The straight between Turns 2 and 3 is the fourth longest in F1 and cars are at full throttle for a full 15 seconds while racing down it.
  • Tyre manufacturer Pirelli will bring its red-banded Supersoft and yellow-banded Medium tyre compounds to Korea. This is a change to last year, when the company brought its Soft and Supersoft compounds. The combination of Supersoft and Medium tyres has been used this season in Australia, Canada and most recently at the Singapore Grand Prix.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver at the Korea International Circuit, with two wins from three outings. Ferrari have scored the most points at the venue, however, with 85 in total, versus 83 for Red Bull Racing.
  • Mark Webber will start this race with a 10-place grid penalty. The Red Bull Racing driver was reprimanded by the FIA race stewards after the Singapore GP when, following his failure to finish the race, he accepted a ride back to the pit lane from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. This was deemed dangerous, and as it was his third reprimand of the season, Webber received an automatic 10-place penalty.
  • Webber’s 2012 pole position here was his most recent and the 11th of his career. He finished last year’s race in second place, his second career podium finish at the KIC. Team-mate Vettel was on pole for the inaugural race, while Lewis Hamilton started from the front of the grid in 2011 for McLaren.
  • Jean-Eric Vergne made his Formula 1 debut here in 2011 as a test driver for Toro Rosso. He completed just nine-laps in a wet first free practice session. The Frenchman then signed to drive for the team for 2012 and on his return to the KIC finished the race in eighth place, scoring four points. It was the third of four points finishes for Vergne last year – all were recorded with eighth place finishes (in Malaysia, Belgium, Korea and Brazil).
  • The 2010 race marked the lastF1 appearance so far for Japan’s Sakon Yamamoto. He made his F1 debut at his home GP in a practice session for Jordan in 2005. His first race was the German GP of 2006, for Super Aguri, for whom he raced the remaining seven races that season. After sitting out the first 10 races of 2007 he joined the Spyker team, for whom he raced the last seven races of that year. He next appeared in 2010, racing for HRT until the final two grand prix of the year when he was replaced by former Jaguar and Red Bull Racing driver Christian Klien.
View of the Korea International Circuit

View of the Korea International Circuit

Korean Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters

  • Four different teams have won the 12 races so far this year(Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
  • Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel has seven wins in 2013. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have won two races each. Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton have each won one.
  • Vettel has won the last three races.
  • Vettel has 33 career wins, Alonso 32, Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 41.
  • Mercedes have been on pole eight times in 13 races. Vettel has taken the other five.
  • Vettel has 41 poles to his credit and is third in the all-time list (Michael Schumacher had 68 and Ayrton Senna 65). Hamilton has 31 and Alonso 22.
  • Vettel’s Singapore pole was his second in a row.
  • Mercedes have locked out the front row in qualifying three times this year.
  • Alonso has not been on the front row in the last 23 races, with his last appearance being his pole in Germany in July 2012. He has not been on pole in a dry qualifying since 2010.
  • Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in Formula 1.
  • None of the five 2013 rookies have scored points so far.
  • The circuit runs anti-clockwise and requires medium to high levels of aerodynamic downforce. Most drivers opted for a two-stop strategy last year.
  • Webber will start with a 10 place grid penalty after collecting his third reprimand of the season in Singapore for taking a ‘taxi ride’ on Alonso’s Ferrari after the race.
  • Alonso (2010) and Vettel (2011, 2012) are the only drivers to have won in Korea.
  • No driver has won from pole in Korea so far.
  • Hamilton has twice finished second.
  • McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are the only teams to have had drivers on the Korean podium.
  • There have been more Safety Car periods (five) than race leaders (two – Vettel and Alonso) in the three Korean Grands Prix so far. Last year’s race had just 34 overtaking manoeuvres.
F1 fans in Korea

F1 fans in Korea

Race Stewards Biographies

  • Garry Connelly has been involved in motor sport since the late 1960s. A long-time rally competitor, Connelly was instrumental in bringing the World Rally Championship to Australia in 1988 and served as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Board member and Clerk of Course of Rally Australia until December 2002. He has been an FIA Steward and FIA Observer since 1989, covering the FIA’s World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and Formula One Championship. He is a director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety and a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
  • Silvia Bellot began marshalling in 2001, when she was 16. Despite her young age she has been a steward in a number of national and international series, including the, European F3 Open, GT Open, BMW Europe, Spanish Endurance Championship, DTM, World Series by Renault and the WRC. In 2009, she took part in the FIA trainee stewards’ program for GP2 and F1. She made her first appearance as an F1 steward at the 20011 Turkish GP and last year was awarded the FIA’s Outstanding Official prize. She is currently a steward in GP2, GP3, WTCC and F1. Away from the stewards’ room she is a member of the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission and also works closely with RACC, the Circuit de Catalunya and the Spanish federation in event organisation.
  • During a motor sport career spanning almost 40 years, Emanuele Pirro has achieved a huge amount of success, most notably in sportscar racing, with five Le Mans wins, victory at the Daytona 24 Hours and two wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. In addition, the Italian driver has won the German and Italian Touring Car championships (the latter twice) and has twice been American Le Mans Series Champion. Pirro, enjoyed a three-season F1 career from 1989 to 1991, firstly with Benetton and then for Scuderia Italia. His debut as an FIA Steward came at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he has returned regularly since.

Korea International circuit track map

(Compiled by Apex from various sources)

Subbed by AJN.

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