The digital race facts from Mercedes Petronas GP that we published for the Japanese GP proved so popular, that we decided to share the team’s preview document for the new Yeongam circuit in Korea as we get ready for this weekend’s grand prix.
You’re probably already aware that Yeongam is another new Hermann Tilke designed circuit and that up until a fortnight ago we weren’t 100% sure if the inaugural Korean grand prix was still on – such were the concerns that the circuit would not be ready in time.
Pictures were tweeted on earlier in the week as the F1 teams and media arrived at the circuit for the first time, and the news wasn’t entirely reassuring – seats were still being fitted to the grandstands, toilets were over-flowing and grid boxes were being painted on the main straight.
But over the past few days the circuit has slowly begun to take shape and this morning’s free practice sessions saw Lewis Hamilton setting fastest time in FP1 and Mark Webber claiming the rights in FP2. For a while during FP1 we saw both Williams F1 drivers owning the front row, but as the track rubbers in we’re seeing the top-5 championship runners taking their familiar places.
The good news as far as the track is concerned is that it’s very slippery, the oils and chemicals within the bitumen are still fresh, and there’s a 60% probability of rain forecast for Sunday’s race so expect some fireworks on those first few laps. Normally with new asphalt over the first six months the chemicals on the top surface wear down to expose the stones, which is what produces the grip, but that will not happen this weekend, so the circuit will be changing with each lap being run.
Virgin Racing’s driver Lucas di Grassi @LucasdiGrassi tweeted this morning “My view on Yeongam Circuit: Really technical to drive, slippery, no margin for mistakes in the last sector and good overtaking spots”, although many drivers have complained about the dangers of turn#16 which the FIA have decided to build up the kerb tonight.
There will be an abundance of information to help guide us through the weekend, from McLaren’s excellent live data and commentary, the BBC’s interactive TV coverage and the many twitter streams that keep you close to all the action [See our: Essential F1 Twitter Sources].
Whatever you do this weekend, we hope you have a good one and remember there’s no excuse for being out of touch with the action on track in Korea.