Karun Chandhok Q&A: Fans & teams will love Korea 06 Sep 2010
Any remaining rumours about the Korean International Circuit not being finished on time for next months inaugural Grand Prix were silenced over the weekend as Red Bull and Karun Chandhok lapped a Formula One car at the new venue for the first time. After sampling the Yeongam track, Chandhok is sure it will produce excitement for drivers and spectators alike, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com
Q: Karun, you are the first ever Formula One driver to sample the new Korean track. How did that all come about?
Karun Chandhok: Well, first of all I have to thank (race organisers) KAVO (Korea Auto Valley Operation) and Red Bull for inviting me, and Hispania Racing for allowing me to be the first-ever F1 driver to drive around the new Korea International Circuit. It is a great honour and will sure be something that will always stay in my memories.
Q: How did it feel to be the first to leave tyre marks on an untainted circuit? Not many drivers get such a chance during their career
KC: It was a real privilege. The promoters from KAVO and the fans really treated me well and it was a pretty cool feeling to explore this new circuit before anyone else. I certainly left my mark on the track with all the tyre marks from the donuts!
Q: How was the reception from the fans? For many it was their first live encounter with Formula One racing
KC: The response was just incredible. We had a huge crowd of media and fans as well as the Sports Minister and other dignitaries. Their enthusiasm is fantastic to see - it almost feels like the fanatical Japanese following. When Formula One comes here in October they will find a fan base ready to show them what Korean fans are all about!
Q: The main thing the world wants to know is how is the track? What is it like?
KC: It has a good mix of corners. The first part of the lap has long straights followed by slow corners, which should allow plenty of passing opportunities. The long straight after turn two will allow some good slipstreaming. From Turn seven onwards the circuit opens up and there are four high-speed corners with some elevation changes, which will be interesting for the drivers. Turns eight-nine and 11-12 are going to be really interesting for the drivers, with high-speed changes of direction and camber changes. It's also got a bit of a street-circuit feel to it actually, with the walls being quite close, and you can't really look through the apex of a lot of the corners, a bit like the Valencia street circuit.
Q: From your experience of the track and from what you know about this years teams and their cars, who do you think it will suit best?
KC: It'll be interesting to see. Based on Spa, McLaren, Ferrari and even Renault look to be ahead of Red Bull Racing in terms of straight-line speed, so the first third of the lap will suit them, but then the fast flowing corners around the rest of the lap could bring it back towards Red Bull, so I think it'll be close between them like we saw at Spa.
Q: How was the rest of the venue? The track is one thing, but teams also need facilities to prepare their cars and to host their guests
KC: There is only one word that describes it best: enormous! The pit buildings for the teams are huge. I had a chance to look around the paddock and the grandstands as well, which all look pretty good. I have to say it's a really picturesque setting with the green fields and sea just outside the paddock. The teams and the fans will just love it.
Q: As with all new circuits, there have been rumours that it might not be ready in time. What is your impression?
KC: Undoubtedly they still have a lot more work to do, but now from what they say it's just in the touch-up stages. The asphalt and kerbs need a bit more work and the access roads and paddock have to be finished off, but the organisers say it's all okay for their time frames.
Q: Being the first man to drive here was a prestigious opportunity, how do you see your F1 career progressing? What are your plans for 2011 when the Indian Grand Prix joins the calendar?
KC: At the moment, we're looking at all available options for 2011, including of course HRT. There's still a bit of time and obviously I would love to be on the grid in Delhi, but the main aim is to secure something good for the whole season, not just Delhi.