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Drivers give thumbs-up to Korean F1 track – apart from the pit lane entrance

22 October 2010 by Keith Collantine

The reaction of F1 drivers to the Korean International Circuit after the first day’s running at the track was largely positive.

“For a modern track it has got a lot of character,” said Adrian Sutil, and several others were also complimentary about the track.

But many drivers have also questioned the pit lane entrance which drivers approach unsighted and at speed.

Here’s what some of the drivers had to say following today’s practice sessions:

It’s enjoyable to drive here – there are a couple of unique sections and it’s always a challenge for a driver to get into a new venue. The pit entry and exit is a little bit marginal to get on and off the track but, apart from that, they’ve done a remarkable job and I’m clutching at straws to criticise anything.
Mark Webber

I like the final corner: very nice, because it is really a driver’s corner where you need to take a risk, which can be a bit dangerous as you have walls on both sides. Other parts are also interesting with a mix of different lines and changes of direction.
Jaime Alguersuari

The track is quite nice. It is challenging, and the last sector especially is difficult but nice to drive. The only problem is the surface is still too slippery.
Kamui Kobayashi

I think the pit entry is quite on the edge here because it’s blind and someone going into the pits will be going slower than someone who’s staying out. If you’re trying to pass and they decide to pit, it could be quite difficult.
Sebastian Vettel

The track has been very good and I enjoyed driving it today. Of course a new track with totally fresh asphalt needs to rubber in but it got better and improved massively over the day. I am very pleasantly surprised with the circuit. It is very demanding, challenging and tricky which provides a challenge that I like a lot.
Michael Schumacher

Learning the new track was a real pleasure today. It has a nice flow and some great corners, particularly in the last sector where it bends into the pit straight. For a modern track it has got a lot of character and once we got some grip down it was fun to put the laps in.
Adrian Sutil

It’s always interesting to discover a new circuit. As expected it was really dirty this morning, improving through the day, which you could see in terms of lap times getting quicker all the time. There are still some corners that have remained dirty or where the asphalt is higher than the kerbs. [...] Overall, it is a nice circuit: quick with a lot of walls, but interesting.
Sebastien Buemi

I enjoyed the day’s work – the high speed section at the beginning of the second sector is pretty cool, and there are some pretty challenging corners in the third sector. I think you’ll see some overtaking in sector one where you have the long straights and tight corners, so while it’s not too tough through there, I think it will provide some action.

We’re all going to have to be careful around the pit lane entrance as it’s a bit tight around there, with cars on quick laps having to keep a close eye on the guys slowing down to go into the pit lane, but I’m sure we’ll handle it ok.
Heikki Kovalainen

2010 Korean Grand Prix

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Image © Korean GP

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65 responses to Drivers give thumbs-up to Korean F1 track – apart from the pit lane entrance

  1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    I find Webber’s reaction te most interesting. It’s usually a case of everyone in the paddock giving a soundbyte about how brilliant the circuit is for PR’s sake, but Webber is usually the straight-shooter of the lot. He was the first one to criticise Valencia for being bad (exactly what he said will be picked up by the moderation-filter; blunt as he was, he was also very accurate) – that he’s enjoying the circuit is very interesting.

  2. HounslowBusGarage says:

    An impressive debut for the track, I think.
    Everyone seems to be positive and I’m looking forward to reading the Marshall’s reactions from John Booker and hopefully a “how was it for you?” type report from a spectator.
    But so far so good.

    • Prisoner Monkeys says:

      What are the likes of Brundle saying, I wonder?

      • HounslowBusGarage says:

        Don’t know yet. He doesn’t do practice commentary.
        I’m still not sure about the pit entry or those rather nasty walls. Yamamoto demonstrated that any incident in that section of the track is going to cause problems.

      • Steve says:

        Brundle is an idiot. What ever he says will probably be wrong.

        • Scribe says:

          Lol, troll?

          I don’t always disagree that he makes some fairly annoying judgemental statements but you just critised the most popular F1 commentator since the man himself.

          • Wobblebottom says:

            Agreed Scribe. But I do wish they would get rid of Legard (I know!!….this thread has been done to death). He’s just terrible. We could have Crofty, Davidson or Mr Chandok….all would be an improvement!!

  3. Superted666 says:

    Some good feedback, cant wait until race day :)

  4. Magnificent Geoffrey says:

    I think Tilke and the Koreans should be commended. Forget everything else, they’ve got the most important factor right, the track. Of course, it’s still very early days and we don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday but even with no scenery that cars looked absolutely fantastic around the track – especially through that final sequence.

    The dust and general lack of grip was encouraging to see as well because it’s always more exciting when the teams are struggling to find the grip. I’m really looking forward to this one!

    • Scribe says:

      Yeah, totally didn’t see this comming, looking at the track maps I thought this had Shanghai International written all over it. An if the track is good, it’s definatley a plus that the setting could get a bit spectacular, very intresting blend of circuit characteristics that looks to provide both a test for drivers and a genuine chance of on track action.

      Hopefully though the track doesn’t need dust to make it good, although the place is likley to still be a building site next year. Even if the race is a special one we should possible reserve judgement on it’s potential as a producer for good races once conditions have normalised.

      • Scribe says:

        Oh and heared your teet?/text? to Redbutton crew for free practice.

      • AK says:

        What’s wrong with Shanghai? It too has some interesting sections. Bahrain and Hockenheim are the real Tilke duds with Abu Dhabi close on their heel, IMO, but Istanbul, Sepang and to a lesser extent Shanghai are interesting tracks.

    • David BR says:

      I agree Geoffrey, just a few onboards and the circuit looked really thrilling, obviously all the dust and the threat of loose tarmac adding even more to the edginess – but definitely WAY better than Valencia and Abu Dhabi. I’d add Singapore too, though a lot of fans seem to like it.

  5. UneedAFinn2Win says:

    I don’t see why the pit lane couldn’t start from turn 16, we can see in pictures and TV that there is a service road going around inside turn 17. Of course changing it now would create an exceptionally long entry but I don’t want to wait until someone crashes in Q1 going round 16 to a blind 17. The racing line IS overlapping the beginning of the entry lane, and I don’t understand how Tilke got that so wrong, as numbing as his tracks are, one thing they are is safe.

    • Prisoner Monkeys says:

      The masterplan has the now-standard marina hard up against the paddock and on the inside of turn 17.

    • Pinball says:

      The pit lane entrance situation could easily be improved by moving the barriers back off the edge of the track a couple of metres, to increase the amount of available sight distance. So put in a kerb and verge, and then the barriers behind the verge. That way a driver on a hot lap can see a slowing car and move clear.

      On James Allen’s website he has some photos at driver eye level on the approach to the entrance, and I’m surprised the barriers are that close on the corner, as in normal road design sight distance checks are very common thing to do when designing a road, and I’d assume a firm as experienced as Tilke would be all over that sort of stuff, not to mention the FIA inspectors. Having said that I imagine the barriers have been placed where they are due to the location of the future marina (as Prisoner Monkeys has mentioned). Maybe the geometry of the marina needs to change slightly.

  6. SoerenKaae says:

    As a crazy idea I think they should change the pit entrance.

    It could start between turn 15 and 16, then cross under the marina in a long tunnel, or over on a beautiful bridge.

    That would be awesome :)

    • ed24f1 says:

      Yes, that’s what I thought as well. A bridge would work fine and would be a really unique feature.

      That stops the need to reclaim any more land as well.

    • Icthyes says:

      Oh wow, brilliant idea! It would be a great “hook” for the circuit, I love the idea of a bridge.

      • KONL says:

        I think a bridge would be the best idea.
        But since it is potentially to be a marina where yachts anchor, the bridge should be a bascule bridge like the tower bridge in London.

        That would look spectacular

        • jamie says:

          I do like the idea of a bridge, but how would they make it smooth enough for the suspension of the cars? it is going to have to be quite wide as well in case there was a crash or someone broke down.

        • DaveW says:

          It should be a draw bridge that randomly opens or closes. You can wait, or you can jump it, if you get there in time.

      • PeriSoft says:

        Ooh! Ooh! I know – and, like, a big loop de loop ramp thing so all the cars could go upside down and stuff, and a cliff and a canyon and JET FIGHTERS flying! And there could be a mountain on the inside where you could see dinosaurs and terrordactils when you go on the straight!!

    • Prisoner Monkeys says:

      A tunnel wouldn’t work. Far to dangerous. The one in Abu Dhabi works because it is short and there is a trap door in the wall that allows marshalls to recover a stricken car and has direct access to the surface. But a tunnel under the water would be long.

      Perhaps in 2011 – and this may be an insane idea – the pit entry could be on the outside of the first turn. The cars would turn around and drive back down the pit lane in the opposite direction to what they do now, and the pit exit would be another loop around that would deploy the cars on the outside of turn 18, away from the racing line. The only problem is that cars exiting the pit lane could encounter cars looking to enter as they come through the blind turn 17.

      • Ben says:

        and the fact that those cars going through the pit lane cross the timing line twice, once before entering the pit and once after exiting the pit. So going through the pit means you clock up an extra lap.

        • Prisoner Monkeys says:

          Wouldn’t be too hard to work out a solution. All cars have to be recognised by the system somehow, otherwise the system would have no way of telling who was who, only that laps had been accumulated. Install a secondary timing beam across pit lane that would tell the primary timing line to ignore the car the next time it crosses the start/finish line.

        • PJ says:

          Why not just use the second pitlane at Turn 3?

      • glue says:

        it’s a nice idea, but it would mess up the live timing if cars went backwards and then over the finish line again

  7. Mr JoeBlack says:

    well, I’m shocked about the drivers reactions.
    i saw it so bumpy, specialty turn 16 where its stress the suspension to its limit and pushes the cars to the wall.
    The grass is so new, it’s still not ready and whenever cars pass on it, a cloud of dust attacks the circuit.

    Tomorrow is going to be interesting! I think it will be a lot surprises and DNFs, just hope that it will not be dangerous on the drivers.

    Sure we will not see a similar scenario as Suzuka. Tomorrow it will a key for the championship.

    • Bullfrog says:

      Yes, the first lap’s going to be worth getting up early for! 3 long straights, 3 hairpins and big clouds of dust whenever someone goes off line. If that someone’s at the front of the pack, with all those concrete walls around it could get messy.

    • Dianna says:

      Joe you are right I am afraid.
      A “LOT” of DNF’s sadly.

  8. Bleu says:

    I would think a pi lane solution so that drivers not going to pit should not be allowed to cross the white line there. It would made the final two corners little slower for them. A bit of same problem which was in Singapore during the first year.

    • Icthyes says:

      Yeh I don’t think they should be allowed to cross the white line, it annoys me when they do that at places like the Nurburgring or Catalunya, chopping across the racing line. What really annoys me is that a car can’t pass the white exit line if they’re leaving the pits, but a car already on track can – making a mockery of the “safety reasons” for the rule being there in the first place. Let’s not forget the Massa/Webber duel in Japan where Felipe crossed the pit-lane exit, I shuddered at how dangerous that was.

      • SoerenKaae says:

        And imagine if someone had come out when Schumacher was trying to kill Barichello @ Hungaroring. Schumi would have succeeded.

        I have thought about this for a long time. I understand that the rule is not in place for the first lap, but why do the marshalls allow them to do such dangerous things, but not allow them to miss a chicane because of a sudden pond of water on the track.

  9. DavidS says:

    I only saw a little bit of practice today because I was busy working, but the bits I saw were reasonably impressive. The last sector looks like it has a nice flow, and the use of gradients and walls is in stark contrast to some of Tilke’s worst work.

  10. Icthyes says:

    I have to give it the thumbs up too. I still think the nature of the circuit will spread the cars out and impede close racing, but the the circuit itself is much better than I thought it would be.

  11. David B says:

    From first videos the track is nice. I expected last part to be even much slower, it is interesting instead. I still don’t like too slow hairpins and that slow bend 10, but at the end the track is nice.
    Pits are incredible stupid. I wonder why they didn’t build them on the other side, and the main grandstand would have had a wider view on the track. But Hermann will have had his good reasons for that.

    Anyway, I’m quite relaxed, it should be a nice GP in an attracting venue.

  12. Scribe says:

    Right that is a very nice track, obviously the first sectors a bit contrived but needed in modern F1 to promote good racing.

    Second sector has very nice bends, very nice fast street circuit feel to the third.

    For the race I think McLaren are looking stronger than they have in a long time, an just maybe there dominance of the first sector, and being well up their in the second could mean they’ll be well up there for qualifying and in with a very decent shot for the 1st lap and the rest of the race.

  13. taurus says:

    I was just pleased to see some walls right on top of the track. I really liked the last couple of corners too, but just knew someone would start crying about the walls being too close. It will probably all be sanitised by next year anyway.

    Also nice to see a little bit of gradient!

    • David BR says:

      Yep, maybe because it isn’t finished, but it doesn’t seem over-sanitized and over-protected like Abu Dhabi, or stifled with speed bumps and too many non-event corners like Singapore. I think there are two kinds of ‘positive’ driver reactions – one where they say it’s ‘good’ because they can basically just do their professional job without breaking into much of a sweat, the other where they’re enjoying the circuit because it’s pulling them in – like Suzuka, bits of Silverstone, Spa. Yeongam seems like the latter case. It’ll be good to see how it shows up for overtaking.

  14. wasiF1 says:

    I have to say just looking at the track it has to be one of the best track designed by Tilke so hats off to him, but as like the driver we may have some problem in the qualifying & especially in the race for the pit-lane entry.

  15. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    Keith, do you have any pictures of turn sixteen? Apparently there’s a wall there that is quite dangerous, and I’m curious to see how it was set up because no clear definition of it seems to exist.

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