F1 braced for difficult week in Korea

Mon, 18 October 2010, 10:01

Oct.18 (GMM) Organisers of this weekend’s inaugural Korean grand prix have scattered cement dust in places around the new Yeongam layout, as the newly-laid asphalt surface continues to seep oil as it cures.

But Karun Chandhok – the only man to have completed a lap of the 5.62km layout in a formula one car – insists the circuit will be safe enough to host the race.

“I don’t think for one second that it will be disastrous,” the Indian driver told the Telegraph. “A lot of the rumours have been inaccurate.”

In its official event preview, the Italian team Toro Rosso also urged the F1 world not to “panic” as it makes the long trek from Europe to the Jeollanam-do province.

There are concerns about the incomplete track facilities, food, hotels, access roads, organised crime in the local area and the proximity to the rogue North Korea.

“Our advice to you is don’t panic and make the most of the experience,” said the team.

But Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi is hoping the experience is not just enjoyed by F1.

“The key question will be if the people know enough about formula one to want to attend the race,” said the Swiss.

One piece of good news from the nearby port city Mokpo, about 400 kilometres south of the capital Seoul, is that three days of mostly dry weather is being forecast.

But the sport’s travelling circus is still bracing for a difficult event. To start, Williams team manager Dickie Stanford has told his troops to be ready for a seven-hour bus ride from the capital to Yeongam.

“From a driver’s perspective the most important thing is that the tarmac lasts,” said Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.

Nico Rosberg also said he hopes “the asphalt holds up”, and reigning world champion Jenson Button admitted he expects “a few unexpected issues” in Korea.

But 2010 points leader Mark Webber is sanguine.

“We all have to go there, see the track and get on with the job — it’s the same for everyone,” said the Australian.

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