Korea: What You Need to Know

Fact File: Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea

Laps 55
Lap Length 5.615 km (3.488 miles)
Race Length 308.630 km (191.774 miles)
First Race 2010
Fastest Lap F Alonso 1:50.257 (Ferrari, 2010)
2010 Winner F Alonso (Ferrari)

Overview:

On the scale of races we’ve had so far this year, Korea is still a relatively unknown quantity. The circuit joined the calendar last year after a flurry of last minute excitement, the track was barely ready as the drivers pulled out of the pitlane for the first time. The surface was laid with moments to spare and kerbs were still being laid as the teams pitched up at the venue, put it this way questions were raised as to whether the race would happen at all.  But it did, and it saw the continued rise in form from Fernando Alonso that saw him enter the last race of the season with a chance of taking title number three. It played a pivotal role last year, but apart from the numerous early finishers, Rosberg, Webber, Trulli, di Grassi, Buemi, Glock, Petrov and Vettel (the latter was still the rank outsider at this point, proof we can’t always get it right!), the most pertinent memory is the rain. Rain, rain and more rain. It pummeled the pit lane and the track alike forcing the teams to head indoors, but left the stuffed grandstands to fend to themselves. With the interrupted practice, qualifying and race teams arrive here with little knowledge of what to truly expect from the circuit, so again free practice will be highly important. As long as it doesn’t rain.

Overtaking and Strategy:

Overtaking here, although the DRS zone doesn’t fully utilise the long straight, is mainly concentrated at turn 3. It serves as a brief pause between the two long straights that feature on the circuit, and it’s those who are most in tune with their car that will benefit as they enter the braking zone. Those who are confident will position themselves well and get brave on their brakes to pull off the pass. It’s an anti-clockwise circuit with the four longest straight, meaning that the strong of neck and speedy of car will have a little boost underneath them. This said, the burst of corners that follow give a start-stop feel to the track that can prove hard to get in the rhythm on, and narrow sections on top give a street circuit vibe.

Tyres:

Prime compound: Soft (yellow)

Option compound: Super soft (red)

Chances of the wets (orange) and intermediates (light blue) being used is high.

DRS:

Detection zone: 30m after turn 1

Activation zone: 516m after turn 2

Why Korea Rocks:

This is a very new track still, the surface has yet to fully bed in and so there are a lot of unknowns despite running here last year. Well, almost all the field made it to the finish line in 2010. It was here, in the tightest fight for the title in a while, that we saw Mark Webber essentially put the kibosh on his title hopes and collected Nico Rosberg on the way out. His mud strewn RB6 was the unfortunate image of his 2010 season. Sebastian Vettel also added another piece of bad luck to his year when his engine failed on him during the final laps, without a title win, that would have been his 2010 picture. However, Korea earned it’s own particular image when rain called off qualifying and teams transferred their competitive spirit to floating boats down the newly opened pit lane rapids. So with the rain looking to fall again this year, it’s all to play for as the narrow sections beckon an unlucky driver with their unique siren call. Fuel up the safety car, I have a feeling you’ll be needed.

5 Key Points:

  • Still an unknown quantity
  • Lots of demons to be exorcised
  • Rain
  • Constructor’s title still to be decided
  • Rain
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