'The Korean International Circuit is a demanding place'

Yeongam

After months of construction delays and missed deadlines the Korean Grand Prix made its debut on the Formula 1 calendar in 2010, just 11 days after receiving the final sign-off from the sport's governing body, the FIA.

Two years later, the sport's newest venue in Mokpo remains on the calendar and while it struggles to attract the fans and requires a major trek to get there - it is located over four hours from capital Seoul - the drivers enjoy the layout.

What the drivers say...

McLaren's Jenson Button: "The Korean International Circuit is quite a demanding place - every time you feel you're settling into a rhythm, the track changes direction quite unexpectedly. It doesn't have a flow of some of the other new modern facilities we've been to in recent years, such as the Buddh International Circuit or Istanbul Park."

Force India's Paul di Resta: "It's a really nice track, probably underestimated on the calendar. It offers a nice, open first sector with a lot of straights where car efficiency comes into it, but then there's a technical second sector where balance and a lot of engineering are involved."

Williams's Bruno Senna: "It's a high downforce circuit so should suit our car. It's also one of the tracks we have the least amount of practice on as it is fairly new to the calendar and therefore we haven't had any running in our simulator, so it will be interesting to see how we get on."

Red Bull's Mark Webber: "The Korean circuit is like a fast Budapest. It has long straights early in the lap; I had a good fight there with Lewis last year, which I enjoyed. The last two sectors are very busy with lots of corners."

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi: "We have to expect the track to have a low grip level, especially in the beginning, but this will change during the weekend. Once the track is rubbered in, some high-speed sections combined with slower corners are fun to drive."

The venue

Built on swampland that sits in the Yellow Sea, the 18-turn 5.615km Korean International Circuit, Yeongam, is still very much a work in progress.

It was designed to be a hybrid street-circuit race, but the city which is supposed to have sprung up around the track has yet to materialise.

Indeed, aside from the circuit, garages and grandstands, much of the infrastructure - such as planned boat hotels/viewing decks which would straddle the track and provide hospitality for guests - has yet to materialise.

The track

The latest in Herman Tilke's portfolio is a real technical treat. Divided into three sectors, the track requires a compromised set-up to cope with the long straights between Turns Two and Three while retaining enough downforce to negotiate the twisty section between Turn 11 and the finish.

There are several overtaking opportunities, the most obvious of which is in the heavy braking zone after the long straight into Turn Three. There are also chances at Turn Four and 10.

The DRS zone will be 80m longer this year, stretching from 90m before Turn One to 516m after Turn Two.

In the previous two visits, cool and cloudy conditions have created low track temperatures, making it challenging for drivers to build tyre temperatures.

Meanwhile, the sea-level location of the track means the high atmospheric pressure has a positive effect on engine performance and aerodynamics.

The highlights

2011 - Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull jumped McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at the start to take the lead and remained unchallenged as he stormed to his 10th win of the season. Hamilton bravely fought off Red Bull's Mark Webber to take second while Fernando Alonso was left frustrated when he lost time to the leaders as he struggled to find a way past Ferrari's team-mate Felipe Massa.

2010 - Alonso won the inaugural Korean Grand Prix in wet conditions as Vettel retired from the lead with engine failure to fall 25 points behind the Ferrari driver in the championship. Hamilton and Massa completed the podium as Jenson Button saw his title hopes evaporate with a 12th-place finish.

Sebastian Vettel

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Alonso & Vettel's triumphs in Korea

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