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Drivers laud new Korean circuit 22 Oct 2010

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM03. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus T127.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 22 October 2010

After enjoying a successful opening day of action on Friday, the drivers are full of praise for the newly-built Korea International Circuit. Hailing the Hermann Tilke-designed track as a great success, they clearly enjoyed their first taste of the Yeongam circuit and relished its distinctive challenges.

“Learning the new track was a real pleasure today,” said Force India’s Adrian Sutil. “It has a nice flow and some great corners, particularly in the last sector where it bends into the pit straight. For a modern track it has a lot of character and once we got some grip down it was fun to put the laps in.”

Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher was equally enthralled, saying: “I enjoyed driving it. Of course a new track with totally fresh asphalt needs to rubber in but it got better and improved massively over the day. I am very pleasantly surprised with the circuit. It is very demanding and tricky which provides a challenge that I like a lot.”

The drivers believe Yeongam’s demanding layout, which features an exciting mix of fast and slow corners, will test their driving skills to their limits and ensure an exciting race on Sunday.

“The high speed section at the beginning of the second sector is pretty cool, and there are some pretty challenging corners in the third sector,” said Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen. “I think you’ll see some overtaking in sector one where you have the long straights and tight corners, so while it’s not too tough through there, I think it will provide some action.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, added: “The track is nice to drive and very interesting with three different sectors. In the first one, you need a very good top speed, in the second there are fast corners, with the third one featuring slow turns. It will therefore be interesting to see what set-up choices the various teams will make for qualifying and the race. I like the part from Turn Four to Turn Six, with very different lines and the possibility to overtake: it reminds me of the final sector of the Istanbul track.”

One gripe about the new track centres on the pit-lane entry. Quick-running cars have to take the same line through the tight final corner as those cars slowing to enter the pit lane, and a few drivers have voiced concern it could prove tricky.

“I think the pit entry is quite on the edge here because it’s blind and someone going into the pits will be going slower than someone who’s staying out,” explained Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. “If you’re trying to pass and they decide to pit, it could be quite difficult.”

Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber is also worried about the pit entry, but on the whole is more than satisfied with the track.

“The pit entry and exit is a little bit marginal to get on and off the track but, apart from that, they’ve done a remarkable job and I’m clutching at straws to criticise anything,” Webber concluded. “It’s enjoyable to drive here - there are a couple of unique sections and it’s always a challenge for a driver to get into a new venue.”

All 24 drivers will be back on track at Yeongam on Saturday morning for the third and final practice session.

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