S ebastian Vettel got going at the crucial moment of the season. After victories in Singapore and Suzuka, the German wants to create the hat trick in Korea and take over the leadership of Fernando Alonso. The last time the Heppenheimer was in first place in the drivers' standings was five months ago after the Spanish GP. Before the race in Yeongam, he is currently only four points apart from front runner Alonso.
The track on the south coast of Korea, which opened just two years ago, seems to suit both Vettel and his Red Bull. At the premiere in 2010, only an engine failure could prevent the victory that was believed to be certain. The technology played better in the preseason. Vettel won superiorly. And things are looking good again this year. The world champion car currently seems unbeatable.
The last stages of expansion on the Red Bull RB8 have all ignited. On the other hand, some updates on Alonso's Ferrari had to be removed without any progress. At the moment only rain can help the Italian team. Alonso was able to hold his own best this season on a wet track. But the weather forecast gives little hope to fans of the Spaniard: the meterologists predict sun with temperatures of up to 25 ° C every day.
The route - Korean International Circuit
2010 was that Formula 1 for the first time on the 5.615-kilometer track in the Yeongam region. Actually, a small town should have formed around the test-tube runway since then, but two years after it opened, the course is in the middle of no man's land. Only the cranes of the shipyards provide a little variety. The barren land around the track and the limited traffic during the rest of the year always means very slippery conditions at the beginning of the weekend.
The layout of the track offers a good mix of long straights and various fast corners. The best opportunity to overtake is on the back straight. The pilots stand on the gas for 14.4 seconds. In the end they reach more than 320 km /h. It could be difficult with the tires. Pirelli brings the two softest blends, supersoft and soft. The softest tires did not have to withstand such high lateral accelerations this year.
Highest lateral acceleration : 3.5g (for 2 seconds in turn 7)
Longest full throttle passage: 1,000 meters (between turn 2 &3)
Share of braking phases in the lap time: 14 percent
Share of straights on a lap: 42 percent
Number of gear changes per lap: 56
Full throttle on a lap: 55 percent
Lowest Speed: 70 km /h (curve 3)
Highest cornering speed: 280 km /h
Distance from pole position to the first corner: 300
Top speed: 315 km /h
Fuel consumption: 2.51 kg /lap
lost time per 10 kg additional weight: 0.43 seconds
The already mentioned mix of long straights and many curves does not make it easy for the engineers to find the right setup. In practice, every driver has to find the optimal compromise for the fastest lap. Because of the high proportion of full throttle passages, you have to sacrifice a little downforce for more top speed. Then there is the dusty asphalt, which leads to traction problems. In such conditions, many pilots tend to go a bit in the direction of understeer when setting up.
There are only minor bumps in turns seven and eight. The curbs on the edge of the track are very flat. The engineers can therefore reduce the ground clearance far, which leads to more aerodynamic stability in the fast corners. When it comes to brakes and the engine, the engineers are relatively relaxed. The temperatures are traditionally rather low. The only major delays are after the long straights in curves one, three and four.
Usually, at such a late point in the season, there isn't much that is new on the update front. The exciting world championship fight, however, forces the top teams to further develop the old cars until the final. Red Bull has announced that it will try out new trim parts. Ferrari didn’t want to get out in the open, but also wants to bring a big update.
The look at Lotus will be particularly interesting. As the last car in the field, the black and gold racer gets a so-called Coanda exhaust, in which the exhaust gases are pushed through a duct in the bonnet towards the diffuser. Williams had tried the new exhaust in Suzuka in practice, but not used it in the race. It is not yet clear whether the English team will make a second attempt. Mercedes definitely wants to try out its system for reducing air resistance (DRD) again in free practice, in which the flow on the rear wing is disturbed by blowing from below.
The favorites for the Korean GP :
It's hard to bet against Red Bull at the moment. Sebastian Vettel has won the last two races. In Korea, the world champion has been the dominant man in recent years. The updates work. And the Pirelli compounds also suit the car. Three times this season there was already a super soft and soft ride(Monaco, Singapore, Montreal), Vettel won two of them.
Fernando Alonso has to hope that the updates will take effect and that McLaren will have another weak weekend like Suzuka. Otherwise the World Cup leadership could be gone quickly. Ferrari shouldn't lose sight of Sauber either. In Suzuka, Felipe Massa was only able to finish ahead of Kamui Kobayashi because he had chosen the better strategy in the race. If the high tire wear becomes a factor, you have to reckon with Sergio Perez again.
Behind it it will be tight again. Lotus is the great unknown. Does the new exhaust work? Does the setup finally fit the whole weekend? If not, Force India, Williams and Mercedes are ready to get the last World Cup points.
Expert opinion: Paul Hembery (Pirelli sports director)
'In Korea we have the soft and supersoft mixes in our luggage. It will probably be the last Supersoft appearance this year. We made this choice last year. Some of them did previously claimed that this was a brave decision because of the challenging course, but it worked out well in the end. '
' We made the same selection this year, although the soft tire is even softer than its eponymous tire Predecessor from last year. So the gap between the two mixes should shrink. As the track is not used for the rest of the year, we expect it to get faster and faster over the course of the weekend. The right setup is especially important at the beginning of the weekend to get a grain of tires too prevent. '
This is how the race went last year - GP Korea 2011
After Sebastian Vettel secured the title early in 2011 in Suzuka, he went one better seven days later in Korea and with his tenth win of the season he won the Constructors' Cup. Only in qualifying did the Heppenheimer show a small moment of weakness when he granted Lewis Hamilton the first non-Red Bull pole of the year. In the race, Vettel then straightened everything with a controlled victory. He had already overtaken Hamilton on the first lap and hadn't let anything burn afterwards.
It got more exciting in the battle for second place. In the end, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Jenson Button crossed the finish line within three seconds. Above all, Webber and Hamilton fought a courageous battle for second place, in which both drivers were ahead of the game. Michael Schumacher involuntarily delivered the spectacular climax of the race. On lap 16, Vitaly Petrov crashed his Lotus-Renault in the rear of the car, causing the record champion to fail.
In our picture gallery we have again the photos from the GP Korea 2011.