But late-running construction work has raised doubts over what state the track will be in. Here’s a look at what to expect from Korea’s new Formula 1 track next weekend.
The FIA gave the Korean International Circuit final approval to hold its race on Tuesday, ten days before the start of practice for the Korean Grand Prix.
The race organisers blamed several severe tropical cyclones for delaying construction of the track. But they say everything that was planned to be built in time for this year’s race either has been built or is almost finished and will be completed in time.
However there are concerns arising from the delays, chief among which is the state of the track surface.
Crucially, the base layer of tarmac was finished weeks before the top layer was applied. It was visible during demonstration run at the “Circuit Run” event on September 4th and 5th (see videos below).
It’s not clear exactly when the final layer of tarmac was originally supposed to have been laid but the Asian Festival of Speed was scheduled to take place at the track in the last weekend of August but was postponed.
As the final section of tarmac was laid on October 9th, 13 days before the first F1 practice session is scheduled to take place, it’s clear the delay was in the region of several weeks.
For comparison, the tarmac for the new section at Silverstone was laid by March 9th ahead of the GT1 World Championship race weekend beginning on April 30th – a gap of almost two months.
This has led to heidfeld-warns-over-oily-tarmac-at-korea/">concern voiced by drivers such as Nick Heidfeld that residual oils left over from the construction process may not have had time to dissipate, leaving the track surface at Korea very slippery.
The track will not have ‘rubbered in’ and dust from the surrounding construction work is likely to exacerbate the shortage of grip.
On past occasions where tracks have been resurfaced shortly before a race we have seen the surface become damaged, notably at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2008. The track had to be patched up between qualifying and the race and re-surfaced after the Grand Prix.
F1 cars exert the greatest stress on the track under braking from high to slow speeds and accelerating out of slow-speed corners, meaning turns one, three and four are potential problem areas.
The track has been given approval by the FIA so whatever difficulties the drivers face they’re unlikely to be severe enough to jeopardise the holding of the race. As Lotus’s Mike Gascoyne observed:
It is always a bit of a step into the unknown when you go to a new venue, but we have completed a number of simulation programs at the factory that have given us a pretty good idea of how the car will behave on track.
The big unknowns are what downforce levels to run, and how the track surface will stand up to the rigours of a full race weekend. We will find the right set-up over the weekend, and any track issues are out of our control – it has been passed by the FIA so we will just go there and do our best.
If there are any problems, it will be the same for everyone, so we cannot waste time worrying about what might happen we will just focus on bringing both cars home in the race and taking another step closer to the end of the season.