2010 FORMULA 1 KOREAN GRAND PRIX
- South Korean Won
- First Grand Prix
- GMT +9
- Buddhist 24%, Protestant 19%, Catholic 7%, no religion 50%
- Visa / Passport Requirements
Korea is the world’s fifth largest producer of road cars, but it’s been a relatively minor player in international motorsport. Until now. The state-of-the-art Yeongam circuit will place the country firmly on the Formula One map for at least the next seven years.
The track is located on the coast in the South Jeolla region, a province in the southwest corner of Korea. The Korean Tourist Board calls this area ‘Korea’s greenest province’, which is a reference to the local economy’s dependence on agriculture and the high levels of rainfall during the June, July and August monsoon season.
The track’s rural location gives it a unique feel and visitors have the opportunity to explore this picturesque section of coastline when they’re not at the circuit, although the city of Jeollanam is developing around the track and will eventually provide a cityscape backdrop to the street section of the circuit.
Hot on the heels of Abu Dhabi’s stunning Yas Marina Circuit, Yeongam is set to be another hugely impressive facility. It will have seating for 130,000 spectators, making it the largest sports stadium in Korea, and a section of the track will pass along the harbour front, giving the race plenty of glitz and glamour. The 16,000-seater main grandstand features a roof which has been designed to resemble the eaves of a traditional Korean ‘hanok’ house.
“There will be nine races in Asia in 2010, if you include Turkey and Australia,” says Mark Webber. “That’s huge, especially when you consider that there were only three races in this part of the world when I started in F1. Korea will be another interesting location; it’s somewhere new for the sport and I hope the locals get behind it and enjoy it.”
Did you know? The province of South Jeolla was once a place of exile for Korea’s political and religious dissidents.
The track lies around 370 km south west of Seoul, which gives the international traveller several options. Either you can make the five-hour journey from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport by car, or you can take a high-speed train (a TGV lookalike) to the nearby town of Daebul, or you can fly to the recently opened airport at Muan, which is a 30-minute drive from the circuit. Gwangju Airport is 70 minutes away, while Gimpo International Airport is approximately 335 km away.
The organisers are conscious of the track’s relatively remote location and are laying on free shuttle buses from the towns and cities closest to the circuit.
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Many nationalities are required to have a visa to enter the Republic of Korea, so please follow the Visa/Passport Requirements link at the top of this page to find out what to do next.
When you get to South Jeolla, be prepared for all weathers. Snow is not unusual in winter and there’s a high chance of rain in mid-October as well, even though the monsoon season ended in August. For the Grand Prix the climate should be mild, with temperatures ranging from 11-23 degrees Celsius.
Where to go?
Don’t expect the bright lights of Seoul during your stay in South Jeolla, as it is still one of the least developed provinces in Korea. But therein lays its charm. Yeongam is famous for its seafood, figs and rice, so take time to enjoy these local specialities, and there’s also a lot to see in the surrounding areas.
There are various specialty museums, including the Celadon Museum in Gangjin County, the Cultural Street in Mokpo, the Dinosaur Museum in Haenam County, Agricultural Museum in Yeongam County, Unrimsanbang in Jindo County and even a Bamboo Museum in Damyang County. Plus there are many Korean Buddhism temples to visit, including the Hwaeomsa, Dogapsa and Daeheungsa.
The coastline is littered with more than 2,000 islands, many of which are uninhabited but can still be visited. Hongdo island, Baekdo island and Geomundo island are among the most scenic. There are many magnificent mountains like Mount Jirisan and Mount Wolchulsan, with the circuit itself surrounded by the picturesque Mount Wolchul National Park. Why not take a trip along the Yeongsan River?
Where to stay?
The International hotel chains haven’t yet made it to South Jeolla, so accommodation for the inaugural 2010 race may need a bit of planning.
You can look for hotels and rooms in the nearby towns of Gwangju and Mokpo. You could also consider the fascinating prospect of ‘Temple Stays’, in which you’d stay in a Buddhist temple and participate in the lives of monks when not at the racetrack.
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If you want to stay in Korea, take a trip to Seoul and enjoy its vibrancy and eclectic mix of cultures. The city is located on the beautiful Han River and there are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites within easy reach: Changdeokgung, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. You could also checkout the Seoul Olympic Stadium, scene of Ben Johnson’s infamous doping scandal at the 1988 Olympic Games.
“I love going to new places,” says Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, “and I’m very much looking forward to Korea. It’s unlikely that I’ll return to Europe after the race, so I’ll probably head to Seoul for a few days of rest before heading on to Abu Dhabi for the next race.”
If you’re planning to attend the Korean Grand Prix, why not travel to the Far East a couple of weeks early and take in the Japanese Grand Prix on 8 October as well? Nagoya, the closest airport to Suzuka, is only a two-hour flight.
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South Korea has two other racetracks, albeit nothing like the circuit in Yeongam. There’s a track in Yongin, which lies in the outskirts of Seoul and can be reached via the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, and the other one is in the city of Taebaek, in the province of Gangwon.
|Fri 22 October 2010|
|Practice 1||10:00 - 11:30|
|Practice 2||14:00 - 15:30|
|Sat 23 October 2010|
|Practice 3||11:00 - 12:00|
|Sun 24 October 2010|