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Columns

After debut disaster, Korea learns little
Narain Karthikeyan, Hindustan Times
October 15, 2011
First Published: 23:57 IST(15/10/2011)
Last Updated: 11:24 IST(19/10/2011)

I've just left the Korean International Circuit and am on my way to Seoul - sadly I can't remember if I've been as eager to leave a race track ever before in my life. The circuit is located in the middle of nowhere, an industrial area is by no means a location suited to the glitz and glamour of Formula 1. There are some rumours in the paddock that the second running of the Korean race might be its last - and it may lend some weight as the circuit re-opened only last week after being locked down for the past year since the 2010 race. When a track isn't used on a regular basis, the surface deteriorates much faster due to the elements and it isn't a surprise that on my first visit to the circuit, it seemed to wear a withered look.

There is only one big hotel near the race track, enough to accommodate drivers and team principles while rest of the crew and the media had to make do with dodgy places dubiously dubbed 'love motels' in Mokopo.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/16-10-11-metro21b.jpg

To top it all, the weather was miserable as we arrived and even worse, stayed so as Friday dawned and I was strapped in for the first practice session. After 20 minutes or so of deliberation we decided to set out on installation tours and I was taken aback by the amount of standing water on the track - not something one would expect at a brand-new racetrack.

The rain eased off towards the middle of the session but some drivers still didn't opt to do any runs. But seat time is crucial for me as this was the last opportunity to drive before the Indian GP.

Me and my teammate Ricciardo did the same number of laps and the circuit actually became better as the racing line dried out and we could've switched to intermediates, like Michael Schumacher did, but the team elected to stick with full wets.

At the end of it, I was a bit quicker than him so I can't really complain - but it wasn't a really productive session from a data point of view as we learnt little and I didn't get any high-speed running which I was looking forward to before India.

The layout itself is pretty challenging, especially sector two which is extremely fast and flowing and demands a lot from the driver. But there are a few design flaws as well - like the pit lane exit which goes around the outside of turn one, leading to the collision between Rosberg and Alguersuari. 

Obviously the next time around I'll be writing to you from our very own Buddh International Circuit - the home to the inaugural Indian GP. There is a misconception in the paddock about our country - people think we're still stuck way back in time and that the race isn't going to go through smoothly. Having seen Korea and the extent of mismanagement and chaos there, I am-sure that our GP will be a resounding success. See you there!

The writer is an F1 driver for the Hispania Racing Team.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/16-10-11-metro21c.jpg


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