YEONGAM, South Jeolla, South Korea - The Korea International Circuit features 18 corners and only one long straight to aid in cooling the car. The sharp hairpins and quick corners were designed to make overtaking easier. The marina section overlooks the sea, making the Korea International Circuit the first permanent track in Formula One history to have an ocean in the background.
The twisty nature of the circuit lends itself to interesting battles as drivers try to navigate high-speed stretches and slow corners. Drivers accelerate to speeds of up to 300km/h before braking hard for Turn One and slowing to 85km/h. Directly after lays the longest highest-speed straight of the circuit, which is followed by the lowest-speed corner at Turn Two, which is the first ideal spot for overtaking. The next high-speed straight is followed by three zig-zag corners between Turns Four and Six. Drivers then navigate the next 10 turns at high speeds of up to 295km/h. The last kink in the circuit is the second ideal overtaking spot for drivers.
The high g-forces encountered at each turn leads to strain on the drivers' necks. While most races are run clockwise, both the Singapore and the Korean Grands Prix are run counter-clock wise, which places strain on different muscles in the drivers' necks.
The pit-lane entrance was amended after the first season. Originally the entrance was deemed to be "dangerous" to drivers and team managers because it was on the racing line of a 250km/h corner. While drivers pitting would be slowing down to enter, those not pitting would be racing at their normal speeds and the two could clash. To amend this, a wall at Turn 17 was pushed back to increase visibility.
The pit-lane exit has also received criticism because it feeds into Turn One. In an attempt to avoid incidents from pit-lane exits, a stoplight system has been installed to warn drivers if other cars are approaching.
"I like the layout of the circuit in Korea. The atmosphere at the track isn't great because there aren't many spectators, but the track's got some challenging sections and some good corners. The last sector in particular is fun because it has a nice flow to it and the walls are pretty close, so you have to be very accurate with your line. Something that's unique about this race is that the drivers all stay in the same hotel. Meal times can be a bit bizarre because everyone sits by nationality and we like to have a good look at what everyone else is eating for breakfast."
"The track in Korea has a bit of an unusual layout. The long straights all come right at the beginning and the turns at the end. I love the curvy part because it is a lot more fun, whereas the straight lines and sharp turns can be a little boring. They are also our weakness, because we often lack in top speed there."
Korea International Circuit Guide
Plans to start construction on the Korea International Circuit were announced on September 2, 2009 with the initial completion date of July 5, 2010. However, due to weeks of rain that damaged the soil, construction was delayed. When FIA inspectors showed up on October 11, 2010, some race facilities were incomplete and a few layers of pavement were not yet laid down. Amidst concern that the circuit would not be finished in time, construction crews carried on round-the-clock and the inaugural race was held on October 24, 2011.
While rain delayed the construction of the circuit, it also delayed the inaugural race. After three laps of having the safety car deployed, the race marshals stopped the race to see if weather conditions would improve. Forty minutes later, the race began again. The safety car stayed out for another 14 laps before exiting on Lap 17.
Both Infiniti Red Bull drivers have appeared on the Korean podium in the past two years. Sebastian Vettel returns as the two-time defending champion. The team will be hoping to replicate the 1-2 finish here at Korea from last year. It was at this circuit that the team secured enough points to win the Constructors' title for the second year in a row, with three races left in the 2011 calendar.
Key Track Statistics:
Local start time: 15h00
Number of laps: 55
Circuit length: 5.615km
Race distance: 308.630km
Grand Prix debut: 2010
Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault, 2011), 1:39.605
1. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2012 Race Results:
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
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