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Korean Grand Prix Preview – AT&T Williams

When: Friday 14 to Sunday 16 October, 2011
Where: Korea International Circuit, Korea
Round: 16 of 19

Despite the frenetic rush to get the Yeongam circuit finished, last year’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix was deemed a great success. The facilities were good and, more importantly, the track got the thumbs-up from the drivers. Its mix of fast, open corners to start the lap and a street circuit finish seemed to work well.

The track was very slippery last year after the asphalt was laid only two weeks prior to the race and was still curing. It’s now had time to settle, so there should be more grip available in 2011. However, October is the rainy season in South Korea, so the teams should expect to use their rain tyres at some point over the weekend.

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: After a difficult weekend in Suzuka, the whole team has reacted quickly and pushed hard not to have a repeat of the issues that gave us trouble during Friday’s practice sessions.

For this 55 lap race Pirelli are providing the Soft and Supersoft tyres, as per Singapore. Last year we saw a large grip evolution throughout the sessions and one should expect the same this year. Currently the forecast is predicting a wet Friday and chances of rain throughout the weekend, so we need to be prepared to adapt our running programme to suit the conditions. This is a medium to high speed circuit with a smooth track surface.

We want to give both drivers maximum testing and set-up time on Friday in Korea in order to optimise the car’s set-up. Our aim is of course to score points and to show a clear performance improvement from one race to the next.

Rubens Barrichello: The race last year was very enjoyable. We were racing on wet tyres so we’ll have to wait and see what the forecast has in store for us for this year but I’m looking forward to enjoying what was a good Grand Prix last year.

Pastor Maldonado: Korea will be another new circuit for me so it will be a hard race. I need to understand a bit more about the circuit to get myself ready ahead of Friday practice. It will be interesting as it will be my first time in both the country and at the track.

From Cosworth’s perspective: Last year was Formula One’s first trip to Korea and it was an interesting learning experience for everyone, including Cosworth. The circuit puts all elements of the engine to the test and gives power units a thorough workout. Top end power will be crucial down the main straight and particularly along the 1.2km straight after turn two, which is a big challenge for the engine; if it is windy, as was the case at times last year, seventh gear selection can be quite tricky.

There is a tight sequence of turns from six to eight that makes life hard for the driver with high lateral G-forces, followed by turns nine to 18, which are all fairly tight, sequential and relatively slow. The interesting contrast between this final sector and Sector One is the requirement to fit shorter ratios for the small bursts of acceleration between the corners. However, this has to be combined with a seventh gear that provides a competitive top speed, with and without the DRS. This sequence of corners is also a test of the engine’s part throttle driveability.”

From Pirelli’s perspective: Our choice for Korea is the P Zero Yellow soft tyre and the P Zero Red Supersoft. This is a choice that we have nominated for the tight and twisty street circuits so far this year, most recently in Singapore. Korea is a semi-permanent venue, with characteristics that we believe should be well-suited to these two tyres. We’ve seen in the past that the extra performance of the supersoft tyres in particular gives teams plenty of opportunities to come up with some interesting strategies, which often leads to a close finish.