So, just a few days after the drivers mainly gushed about the new track in Korea (from a far), they’ve had their first drives round and guess what?
Yeah… not so happy now. The pit entry is on the exit of a blind corner (what, that’s not a good idea?), for one thing. And drivers are worried about the speed differential between cars still racing and those pitting at said corner.
Don’t forget the general complaints about the slippery surface, which they are attributing to the late construction.
Those complaints seem to be spoiling a decent enough reception to the track (way better than Abu Dhabi’s first try, apparently).
Here’s a bit from the BBC:
Lotus’s Jarno Trulli said the drivers would raise the subject with race director Charlie Whiting, adding: “It’s very dangerous. It is a big issue.”
Renault’s Robert Kubica said: “It might be quite tight if someone’s pitting.”
Trulli, who has been racing in F1 since 1997 and won the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix, also said the layout of the pit exit and first corner could be improved, and criticised the fact that drivers had not been consulted on the design before the race meeting.
“They don’t even ask us anything about circuit layout,” he said. “Nothing.”
He added: “I had problems because I was twice stuck in gear.
“While I was fine to make it back I was so slow that I had to look after myself when I was getting in. In this longer, blind right-hand corner I had to stay right in the racing line and I was so slow that I was wondering if someone might hit me in the back.
“This is a big issue in my opinion. There is no other option, it is right on the racing line, and the racing line is right on the far right-hand side facing the wall.”
Trulli’s concerns were echoed by other drivers, including Renault’s Robert Kubica and championship leader Mark Webber.
Kubica said: “If someone is pitting, you have to take a tighter line then it might be a bit dangerous if you are really close. It might be quite tight.”
Among the changes being made are tweaks to Turn 16, where cars were bottoming out and the curb was basically lower than the track. That work should affect how drivers enter Turn 17, as well. And organizers are working on the final turn / pit lane entry, trying to keep drivers from cutting the corner so much.
Here are a few more reactions from the drivers, again via the BBC:
Kubica said: “The first few corners are quite boring. After Turn Nine there is quite a lot of action going on and Turn Nine, 10 is quite nice and also 11, 12, and from there it’s quite a nice track.
“The last corner is quite challenging. It’s quite blind.
“I was quite surprised by the track layout – it is 10 times better than Abu Dhabi (which made its debut in 2009).”
World champion Jenson Button added: “I’m enjoying the circuit and felt we got to grips with it pretty quickly. The track feels quite flowing.
“There was a lot of dust which is the only problem. If you put a wheel slightly off line there is a huge amount of dust which might be a problem during the race.”
Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld said: “It’s great fun. Yesterday when I walked the track I thought it would be nice but driving it was even better.
“I think they did a good job and I found it very challenging especially the end of the sector. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Sounds like Kubica is practicing his Kimi answers, on the off-chance Kimi Raikkonen still ends up at Renault.
So, mixed, somewhat positive response from the drivers. What are your thoughts after the first look at the circuit? Better than some? And can you foresee a future where this is a fully realized circuit?