F1’s travellers report first impressions from Korea

Wed, 20 October 2010, 10:01

Oct.20 (GMM) F1’s travelling circus is arriving in South Korea, and the first reports are mixed.

BBC television anchor Jake Humphrey summed up the Yeongam venue as satisfactory but “far from finished”.

“Things look pretty ready to go,” said Virgin driver Lucas di Grassi, “with some beauty work still to be finished but the main structure is ready.”

Others talked about their long journeys from the huge Seoul airport to Mokpo, the closest city to Yeongam, in the impressive high-speed KTX train with free wi-fi.

Photographer Darren Heath was less impressed with the journey, tackled by many in buses. “F1 in Seoul? Nah, let’s have it in the middle of nowhere 100s of miles from anywhere,” he wrote on Twitter.

Veteran Swiss correspondent Roger Benoit, writing in Blick newspaper, said the F1 track itself is an “enormous construction site”, and his hotel room one of the ones usually rented by the hour.

“No joke,” he said.

Reportedly so unimpressed was Williams with the local accommodation on offer that the British team has committed to a 3 hour round trip every day in order to stay in a nicer hotel.

“Dominating the venue are the excavators, debris and waste,” wrote Benoit, who said a bridge over the front straight is still littered with scaffolding and hard-hatted workers.

Sauber’s team manager Beat Zehnder complained about the cost of the team buildings, with the rent costing $40,000.

“Whoever wants to use the upper floor must pay another 20,000,” he said, “but everyone has decided to just use the ground floor!”

Said Benoit: “I’m already looking forward to the final races in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi!”

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said rolling machines are still working on the recently-laid top surface of asphalt, with the paint for the starting grid yet to be sprayed.

“Only on Friday will we know whether the surface will withstand the stresses of formula one cars,” read the report.

“Everything on the sandy site is under construction. Next to the pitlane is a large pile of sand. Whoever didn’t know that F1 is running here in a few days would think it’s not happening until next year,” it added.

German Sky television pundit Marc Surer reports in Speed Week that the seating in some grandstands is not complete.

“Much remains to be done, but as for the track itself, I am surprised that it is ready,” he said.

“Whether it can withstand hours of practice and racing, however, is another question.”

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