Korea preview quotes - Williams, Marussia, Pirelli & more 30 Sep 2013
Round 14 of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship sees the paddock leave the bright lights of Singapore behind for the rural beauty of Yeongam, home of the much-lauded Korea International Circuit. Those involved in the 2013 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix discuss their prospects for the coming weekend
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2012 Qualifying - 15th, 2012 Race - 14th
Korea is a medium- to high-speed circuit and has a good combination of corners with the last sector being a good technical challenge with corners that flow well. As the track is still quite new it can be quite green at the beginning of the week with low grip, but it then tends to rubber in and evolve a lot as the weekend progresses so we will be trying to make sure that the car can adapt to the changing grip levels. I was close to finishing in the points in Singapore and we will be looking to learn from that race and make the adjustments needed to challenge for a top-ten finish.
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
Whilst this will be my first race at the Korea International Circuit, I drove the track in FP1 last year so I have experience to draw upon that will prove useful. It's a high-downforce circuit that tests the cars overall performance as it has a mixture of high-speed corners at the beginning with lower speed technical sections towards the end. We struggled with the pace of the car in Singapore but we are bringing some upgrades to this race and hopefully these new parts will result in improved performance for us this weekend.
Xevi Pujolar, Williams chief race engineer
The Korea International Circuit is a challenging track, with Sector 1 being mainly straights and Sectors 2 and 3 being combinations of medium-speed corner sequences and some fast sweeping bends. The track is relatively easy on tyres, often aided by low track temperatures, a low circuit roughness and a forwards energy balance. This coupled with an average fuel consumption, albeit higher than normal fuel effect, and an above average pit loss time typically favours a two-stop strategy. This year Pirelli have gone one step harder on the prime compound, electing to bring the medium compound alongside the supersoft. The first Korean Grand Prix was heavily affected by rain but despite Korea's location and therefore high probability for typhoons and tropical storms, it is not forecast to rain this year.
Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
Korea poses a tricky mix of long straights that are relatively undemanding on engines and drivers, but a twisty third sector that requires the set-up to be completely on point. Good driveability is essential through the medium- to low-speed corners, however this stop-start nature does drastically increase fuel consumption over one lap. We still need to provide a good top-end power for the long straights in the first part of the lap so engine engineers work on providing acceleration through correct gear ratios, particularly in seventh.
Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
It was fantastic to experience the Singapore Grand Prix and my first night race last time out, although I have to say it was not the best track for me this year. I am hoping that Korea will suit the car better and I have been working hard in the simulator and with the engineers to prepare for this and the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which is a track I have been looking forward to. We have to keep pushing hard to take the positives from every situation and keep bringing home the two-car finishes. Lets hope for more of that this weekend.
Max Chilton, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
I took a lot of positives away from my first night race in Singapore. Although Korea is a very different circuit, I feel there is a real momentum building now which I am obviously keen to maintain, so between the sim sessions, engineering meetings and my training, Im feeling very focused. The Korea International Circuit marks another new experience. I understand the track to be quite slippery and the wide range of corners make it interesting to drive. I look forward to my first experience of it this weekend.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
A little over a week since we headed home from Singapore, we find ourselves heading back in that direction to South Korea, for the first of two back to back races in that part of Asia. Its a tough schedule, but at least the cars and freight have continued on their own onward journey, which relieves some of the burden and leaves our personnel free to return home, even for just a short break or regroup with our factory-based colleagues. At the risk of sounding repetitive, our task in these remaining races really couldnt be clearer. We need to do everything possible to maintain our position, whilst capitalizing on tracks where we can be more competitive versus our nearest challengers. Singapore was one such race and there should be a few others in the six remaining.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
This years nomination [medium and supersoft] represents a change from last season where we brought the soft and supersoft, as it best complements the characteristics of the 2013 range of compounds. We would expect there to be a significant difference in lap time between the two compounds we have selected, as was the case in Singapore, and that should help the teams to put together some interesting strategies. Korea is an interesting mix: you get some fast corners as well as some slower ones but actually it has the highest lateral energy demand of all the circuits where the supersoft is used, so tyre management is going to be important once more. In particular, the work done in free practice when it comes to assessing the wear and degradation levels on each compound with different fuel loads is going to be especially important, as that will hold the key to the correct strategy. We saw the difference that having the right strategy could make in Singapore, and although there is a lower probability of a safety car in Korea, this is still something that the teams will be paying a lot of attention to in the build-up to the Grand Prix, as the championship enters its final phase.
Giedo van der Garde, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
Korea next and another track I have experience of from last year. Our week starts with a Renault Sport F1 event in Seoul and then itll be straight down to Mokpo for the race weekend. I havent had the chance to visit Seoul before but everyone tells me its a seriously cool city so Ill make sure I get the chance to take a look around before work starts!
Koreas another track where I ran in FP1 in 2012, completing 19 laps which was enough to find my way around and be able to start pushing. Even though the tyres are different this year, that experience, as I had quite a few tracks last year, is particularly valuable now as it means Im on it right from the start of FP1 and every lap counts in getting the setup right for the weekend.
From inside the cockpit the Korea track is a pretty typical modern F1 circuit. Theres the long straight out of T2 where you need good straight-line speed and then its a bit stop-start through Turns three, four, five and six, and then youre into the high-speed section up to the heavy braking zone at Turn 10. Its pretty bumpy through that whole section and in the early stages of FP1 theres little grip around the whole track, but it quickly builds up over the weekend so you can start really pushing through there from quite early on.
If it rains this year then itll definitely be very interesting - our car likes the wet and two of my highlights this year have been on tracks where its been going from wet to dry, so it would be good if we could have some more unpredictable weather (even though the boys doing the pack up on Sunday probably wouldnt agree with me on that!)
Charles Pic, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - 21st, 2012 Race - 19th
Before we go to Mokpo Giedo and I are helping out Renault Sport F1 at the finals of the Renault Samsung Motors remote control racing car championships in Seoul. Ive seen some of them racing on YouTube and its so quick! I think the scaled-up equivalent is around 600mph and, honestly, Im not too sure how they keep up! Thatll be a good start to the week and then were going to Mokpo on Wednesday to begin the normal race week preparations.
Last year was my first race in Korea and I quite enjoyed it. This year its obviously a different package and as its quite a technical circuit itll be important to make the most of all three practice sessions to give us the best shot at quali and the race. In Singapore I didnt really have a car balance I was happy with all weekend and I want to make thats not the same in Korea, especially as if it rains on Sunday its likely there will be safety cars and we need to make sure we can seize any opportunities that come our way.
Paul di Resta, Force India
2012 Qualifying - 14th, 2012 Race - 12th
Its an unusual track, but definitely a place that I enjoy driving. The three sectors are all very different with long straights linked by hairpins, some high-speed corners and a slower technical part of the lap. The tyre choices are the same as in Singapore so it will be interesting to see how they perform. Weve always gone well on the supersofts, but struggled more on the medium compound so hopefully we can switch it on this weekend.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
I quite like the track and I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been so successful there yet, but I want to make up for that this year. The circuit has a nice layout and a nice flow in the second part of the lap with some high-speed corners. Let's see how the supersoft performs because the corners are very hard on the tyres. That could open up some interesting strategies.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
Its never been our strongest track, although we did score some points there last year. Its quite low-grip and the cooler temperatures make it a very different challenge. We will go there ready to learn as much as possible, try and improve our qualifying pace and come up with a smart strategy for Sunday.
Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - 8th, 2012 Race - 6th
Compared to many other drivers, Korea is a place I quite like. Its a nice track and each sector is very different. The first sector has two straights and two hairpins. Sectors two and three are a bit like a street circuit and technically quite challenging. I enjoy driving there and also, historically, it has been quite a good circuit for me. In 2010 I would have finished fifth, but had a puncture just before the end of the race. Last year I had a great race there finishing sixth. So I have good memories of Korea and look forward to the race weekend.
Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a
Korea is going to be an exciting weekend for me, because Ive been to the track but never raced there before. Ive heard its quite nice to drive and it is going to be a good experience. In terms of preparation, I have mostly learnt from and analysed data and notes from previous years. I also watch a lot of on board videos and, of course, walk the track once we get there. With the two weeks between Singapore and Korea, I had plenty of time to study the track and make sure I am as best prepared as possible. Other than that, the aim for me will, again, be to keep up and improve my consistency.
Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
The Korea International Circuit does not get a lot of use prior to or during the race weekend. This year there is actually only one support race, which is something we have little experience of. Therefore, observing and understanding the track evolution will be important. The three sectors at the Yeongam circuit are all very different and that makes it a real challenge to optimise the car. The first sector only has two significant low speed corners; the rest of the sector is spent flat out in a straight line, therefore rewarding a lower drag set-up. However, in contrast the final two sectors are a good mix of low, medium and high-speed corners with shorter straights. As in previous years, the option compound will be the supersoft tyre compound. However, like in Singapore, the prime will be the medium compound, which is one step harder than we used last year. It will be particularly important to understand how this tyre performs on a faster track, particularly in high-speed corners. The recent update packages have all worked as intended and are helping us to fight stronger within the tight midfield pack. Our aim is to continue qualifying strongly and give ourselves the best opportunity to score more points.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 2nd, 2012 Race - 1st
The track in Korea has a bit of an unusual layout. The long straights all come right at the beginning and the turns at the end. I love the curvy part because it is a lot more fun, whereas the straight lines and sharp turns can be a little boring. They are also our weakness, because we often lack in top speed there.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 1st, 2012 Race - 2nd
I like the layout of the circuit in Korea. The tracks got some challenging sections and some good corners. The last sector in particular is fun because it has a nice flow to it and the walls are pretty close, so you have to be very accurate with your line. Something thats unique about this race is that the drivers all stay in the same hotel. Meal times can be a bit bizarre because everyone sits by nationality and we like to have a good look at what everyone else is eating for breakfast.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 5th, 2012 Race - 5th
Lets hope we are able to maintain the strong form from Sunday in Singapore. The car felt good for the whole race and it was a nice feeling racing too. The main focus is to keep this positive feeling and benefit from it in the next races. Last year was my first visit (to Korea) and its quite a tricky circuit to learn quickly, but I felt comfortable with it after a few laps. When the car is right, you can go well there. Last year we saw its a good place to race with a good car.
The main target is to have a better weekend overall compared to what we saw in Singapore. Obviously, we didnt have the best qualifying and it makes things easier if you start in the top ten. My backs better than it was on Saturday in Singapore which is when it didnt feel too good. Its not the first time Ive had a problem, as there have been some issues with my back for a long time. For sure, we will have to see how it is when I get out on track on Friday in Korea.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 7th, 2012 Race - 7th
Last year was my first time at the Korea International Circuit and its quite an interesting place. It wasnt so hard to learn, although there are three quite different parts to it with the long straight in sector one, high and medium speed corners in sector two and then the street course nature of the final sector. The trickiest parts are definitely Turns 11 and 12 which are not easy to get exactly right, but overall its not too bad and I think the E21 should go well there.
Im feeling pretty positive; we had a good car in Singapore and we should have a good car in Korea.
Qualifying in the top three so late in the season shows that we still have good strength in our package, so if we can show comparable pace at the next few races itll be a real strength for us.
The back-to-back races can be quite tiring, but equally they work pretty well logistically as we stay on a similar time zone for a couple of weeks; certainly with Korea and Japan. Its also quite nice to be able to see some of the countries we visit with a little bit of time between the races. Its not so nice to be away from your family of course, but it makes for an interesting end to the season with the six races so close together.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
Theres a nice long straight benefitting the DRS effect, meaning theres a good chance to see overtaking in the race. The layout has a mix of different sections but they flow together well. We see some decent straights in the first section followed by a few interesting corners - some high speed - in the second section, before moving into an almost street-circuit feel through the final part of the track with its stop-start nature and close proximity walls. Although there are good long straights, the number of high- and medium-speed corners means you have to run with a reasonable level of downforce which should certainly be beneficial for us.
The mixed nature of the track means that compromises are made, and the fact that the circuit isnt used very much aside from for the Grand Prix weekend means that we should see a reasonable amount of track evolution. The weather can also be quite a challenge, with reasonably extreme temperature variations possible. These factors give the engineers plenty of different considerations as they seek the best setup, but in terms of whats needed from the car, its not a circuit which places a particular premium on one aspect. You need a good all-round package with strong straight line speed and stability, decent traction and change of direction, but also good low speed performance tempered with that.
Jenson Button, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 11th, 2012 Race - DNF
If theres one circuit on the F1 calendar that hasnt been particularly kind to me, then its the track in Korea. I had a pretty tough race there in 2010, an average race there in 11, and I didnt even have a race there last year - someone smashed into me at Turn Three on the first lap, and my race was over.
Of course, it would be easy for that to make your head drop, but, in fact, the opposite is true: I travel to Korea next week even more determined than normal to reverse the trend, get the absolute maximum from the car and get a good result. I think we had a solid weekend in Singapore, the engineers, the strategists and the mechanics got the best from the car, and we couldnt have realistically expected more. Thats the aim again next weekend.
This is the first of three pairs of back-to-back races that conclude the season. I think its very important for us to further consolidate our position in the championship, so getting points in both Korea and Japan will be important. We go into this weekend with maximum commitment.
Sergio Perez, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 12th, 2012 Race - 11th
The Korea International Circuit is an interesting venue - its got two very distinct elements, the first half, which is basically a couple of heavy braking zones and three extremely long straights; and the final section, which is a long, undulating section with a mix of high- and medium-speed corners.
Its a somewhat technical course, one that rewards precision more than it does commitment, so the main challenge comes from dialling the car into the track, which is satisfying when you get it right because theres a lot of time to be had from running a well-balanced car.
The aim is also to have a car that works well in the principal overtaking areas - into Turns One and Three - which means making a little bit of a compromise to the set-up. Thats particularly important because its very difficult to overtake once you get into the twisty section, as theres really only a single racing line. The Korean Grand Prix is a very tough race - it might not have that reputation, but, make no mistake, to do well here is always extremely rewarding.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
This final leg of the world championship - in which well race in six Grands Prix in just eight weeks - is an incredibly tough physical feat. After 13 races, and with the prospect of many more weeks spent on the road and thousands of miles spent away from home, its essential to remain fit, focused and dedicated in order to stave off the inevitable burnout that comes at the end of such a long year.
For Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we go into these final races with the very clear intention of consolidating our position in the constructors championship. While improving our position sadly looks impossible, its important to consistently achieve top-10 finishes with both drivers in order to strengthen our points cushion over our closest rivals behind. We achieved that in Singapore and will be looking for similar performances from now until the end of the season.
That may not be a particularly glamorous task for a team that enjoys winning, but it nonetheless calls for constant application, focus and commitment as we count down the remaining races during this important phase of the season.
More to follow.
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