Korean track hailed by F1 drivers
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, October 21st 2010, 08:47 GMT|
Formula 1 drivers have hailed the new Korean Grand Prix circuit a big hit - and predict it will produce an exciting race on Sunday.
Although the focus in the build-up to the event has been on whether the track would be ready or not, drivers say they have been positively surprised by the layout of the new venue.
Felipe Massa said: "It looks pretty interesting this track. As I could see yesterday going around the track you have every type of corner that you can see at many other different tracks.
"There are slow corners, strong braking points, long straights, very quick corners and medium speed corners where you need 3rd/4th gear. I think you have a bit of everything so it looks really interesting."
Lewis Hamilton said: "They deserve a pat on the backs for getting this place ready, and it looks like it can put on a good show."
Nick Heidfeld said: "The circuit looks really nice. The layout looks great and not everything is finished but it is better than what I expected after what I heard over the last few weeks."
Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel added: "Walking the circuit this morning it looks interesting and there are lots of grandstands, so hopefully we have lots of people coming this weekend.
"The circuit itself – we will see how grippy it will be, but given the fact that there was a lot of concern and talking about not racing here, lately they did a very good job. Most of the things are finished so it should be alright for us to go out."
Despite the layout drawing positive remarks from drivers, there remains some concerns about just how slippery conditions will be over the weekend – with the newly-laid asphalt surface likely to produce little grip.
The lack of adhesion was in evidence during Thursday's safety car reconnaissance laps, when Bernd Maylander briefly ran off track as he tried out different lines.
Robert Kubica said: "There are a lot of challenging corners. A lot will depend on the grip level of the track. If the high-speed corners will be flat or not flat out; how much of a big challenge it will be; if they will be real corners or just flat out corners that you cannot win or lose lap time in. But it is quite nice.
"The first couple of corners are a bit boring, but I think there might be some action for overtaking, but again the surface will have a big influence, and if the offline will be grippy or not. If yes in this case there might be some overtaking possibilities in to Turns 1 and 3.
"Although we are prepared for slippery conditions, I think it will be even more slippery than we think. Normally you don't really enjoy driving in F1 where there are slippery conditions, but we have been in a similar situation in Canada where the new surface was really slippery but I will have to see how things develop tomorrow."
Massa believes that the weekend could be a big challenge for everybody – both in terms of staying on track and getting the right set-up.
"For sure even with the safety car they are pushing, and when you push on the track you will miss a little bit the braking point, which can happen," explained Massa.
"Definitely on the first day maybe we are going to see some cars going off because it will be very, very dirty.
"Something we need to concentrate on is the set-up because the track will change completely one day to another and, when you work on the car for the dirty track, then the next day the track will be better and your set-up will have gone the wrong way.
"That is why you need to be very precise day-by-day because especially when you come from the first day to a track like that many things change from one day to another."
The only concern from drivers in terms of safety has been the final corner – where walls line the long right-hander and the pit lane entry could cause some trouble.
Nick Heidfeld said: "We have to drive it first to be totally sure, by walking it the only issue is just the last corner, which doesn't look ideal. There is run off area everywhere else, but on this corner there is a wall on the left and a wall on the right. Maybe there is a reason for it, but I thought there was plenty of space there."
Speaking about the pitlane entry, Vitantonio Liuzzi said: "I have to say the entry doesn't look the nicest, but the exit is okay. It looks quite tricky and I think they could have done it a bit smoother.
"It's quite far away from the track so if you brake hard you could lose the car. It is not up to me to decide. It could be quite tricky, because the right corner going onto the straight is a blind corner so you might find somebody going slower and backing off to go into the pits. It might be tricky.
"Tomorrow we will have a few things to talk about in the meeting, but as I said I am more than happy as I was before coming here. It looks to be quite good. There are a few things to improve and on Friday we will discuss this with Charlie."