The concern over next weekends race in South Korea is still mainly focused on the asphalt and any issues it may have as it was recently laid. The fear of asphalt coming up, oil seeping from it’s curing surface or grooves is still very present in the mind of many drivers.
Those are all good concerns and as FIA’s Charlie Whiting has examined the circuit and given his approval, it seems that perhaps those fears could be over stated. What if they’re not?
Lotus Racing’s Mike Gascoyne takes a very practical look at the issue:
“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 setup 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”
Ultimately the issues the teams could face will be the same for everyone and the series will march forward to do its best to complete a grand prix there next week.
Many of you know that the teams utilize a simulator for training and car development and true to form, they have created the Korean circuit so the drivers can learn the layout. How effective is that type of preparation? Some drivers don’t feel it’s the most germane to their preparation and some veteran drivers, like Jarno Trulli, prefer the tried and true method of walking the circuit:
â€œKorea looks pretty good â€“ Some drivers use simulators or even games to take a look at the lines, but I usually find my way around a new venue by running a few laps of the track on the Thursday. Itâ€™s a good way to work out the stresses of the plane journey, and you get a view of where the braking and turn-in points are. Whatever happens, after a couple of laps Iâ€™ll know my way around and where I can push, so it doesnâ€™t take long to acclimatise.â€
His teammate Heikki Kovalainen doesn’t think learning the circuit will be too difficult as it is a pedestrian circuit of Tilke lore:
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to Korea. Itâ€™s new for all of us, and while Iâ€™ve had a bit of a look at the layout, the first couple of laps will be all about finding the right lines, and then we will focus on setups. To be honest, it wonâ€™t take long to get to grips with the track and I think the car will be ok there. Itâ€™s a pretty typical modern circuit – a couple of long straights with heavy braking at the end, and then a mix of a few tighter corners and a couple more quicker ones, so we should be about where we were in Japan. If I get another set of tyres like my second set in Suzuka itâ€™ll be great, but whatever happens, we’re closer to tenth in the Championship now, and thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about.â€
The big moment for Lotus Racing will be securing the 10th position in the manufacturer’s championship and you have to admit, that is a great job for a new team. I have not seen any concession from Sir Richard Branson as to when he will pull on an Air Asia flight attendant uniform and serve drinks to pay the debt for the wager he made at the beginning of this season but I am looking forward to it.