Williams Technical Director Sam Michael is expecting some Korean surprises this weekend as the F1 series will run its first race at the un-finished circuit. All eyes have been on the asphalt as it was recently laid and many have suggested many different possibilities from oil seeping from a curing track to de-lamination to everything will be fine.
“I’m sure Korea is going to present some surprises. We certainly expect the track surface to be quite low grip because it’s only recently been laid. We already have basic information on gear ratios and rear wing levels from simulation work, but the other aspects of mechanical and aero set-up will need a lot of quick thinking during Friday practice.
All the teams are in the same position of not knowing the track so it’s an opportunity for us to make the best of a level playing field. Having a new venue on the calendar is always welcome and the team are definitely looking forward to experiencing something different”.
He’s right, however, in that all the teams are facing the same unkown’s and as Grace suggested in our latest podcast, this could be a time where the smaller teams can claim some valuable points with the grand equalizer which is the uncertainty of a new circuit. Even circuit designer Herman Tilke thinks the track will be slippery and provide some exciting racing as we discussed here.
A lot of that will depend on the drivers and in the case of Williams F1, neither of the drivers are too confident of their upcoming task due to the unfamiliarity of the circuit. Rubens Barrichello is uncertain but this isn’t his first rodeo; he’s faced new tracks before and he is remaining positive.
“Iâ€™m very open minded going to Korea. All I know about the circuit is that there is a long straight and some tight corners, thatâ€™s it. We havenâ€™t been able to do much preparation so we will just have to go there and get on with it. I will be walking the circuit on Thursday and will then probably go round it on a moped later. Iâ€™ll also be going through any data my engineers may have, but thatâ€™s all we can do.
Itâ€™ll be the same for everyone; weâ€™ll just learn it as we go along. You know how to drive a Formula One car; you know how to drive fast, so you just hook it up. Iâ€™ve never been to Korea before so I donâ€™t know what to expect, but Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing the country and finding out what itâ€™s like”.
Nico HÃ¼lkenberg is also reticent about the circuit but feels the leveling nature of a new circuit will have everyone facing the same challenge and that is where he plans to excel.
“Well, I donâ€™t know too much about the track like everybody else, but as a rookie that has had to compete on some other circuits that the drivers know really well, the fact that none of us have completed a lap in Korea makes it a great leveller for me.
Although I donâ€™t expect the overall championship order to be greatly affected, I think we go to this race knowing we have just as much chance as anyone else. And of course it will be a great adventure for us all to discover more about this new Formula One host country and I am looking forward to it immensely”.