Korean Grand Prix Formula One preview
Red Bull Racing
TEAM NOTICE BOARD
For the full Team Notice Board please click on the link below…
Sebastian Vettel: “In principle, the track is made up of two parts: a permanent race track and the end, which is more like a street circuit although we’re not in the city. The track is located on the western edge of the province of Yeongam, which is in the far south of the country. The circuit is demanding and the last section is very tight.”
Mark Webber: “The Korean circuit is like a fast Budapest. It has long straights early in the lap; I had a good fight there with Lewis last year, which I enjoyed. The last two sectors are very busy with lots of corners. Generally it can be a little bit cold there, so we’ll see what that throws up to us in terms of the tyres. As always, we’ll be looking for a good result.”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2012 Korean Grand Prix preview
Korean International Circuit facts & stats
The Korean International Circuit provides the teams with a fascinating technical challenge. The first half of the 18-corner racetrack contains several high-speed corners and a 1.2km straight, while the end of the lap is tight, twisty and hemmed in by walls. Car set-up is a compromise between straight-line speed and low-speed grip.
There are several overtaking opportunities around the lap, the most obvious being into Turn Three. The cars exceed 310kph (and will also benefit from DRS) along the preceding straight: a crest in the braking area also makes it easy to lock a wheel and make a mistake. Other passing opportunities are into Turns Four and 10.
In the two Korean races to date, cloudy conditions have led to low track temperatures. That has made tyre warm-up difficult, particularly in qualifying, and the teams are preparing for more of the same this year. Another natural influence on car performance is the sea-level location of the circuit. The high atmospheric pressure has a positive effect on engine performance and aerodynamics.
Lewis has a strong record at the Korean Grand Prix, having finished second in both races to date. Jenson’s best result was fourth in 2011.
- Race distance 55 laps (191.783 miles/308.630km)
- Start time 15:00 (local)/07:00 BST
- Circuit length 3.489 miles/5.615km
- 2011 winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 55 laps in 1hr38m01.994s (188.893km/h)
- 2011 pole Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 1m35.820s (210.958km/h)
- Lap record Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB7) 1m39.605s (202.941km/h)
McLaren at the Korean Grand Prix
- Wins 0
- Poles 1 (2011)
- Fastest Laps 0
Car 3: Jenson Button
- Age 32 (January 19 1980)
- GPs 223
- Wins 14
- Poles 8
- FLs 7
- 2012 points 131 (6th)
- Korea record 2011 Q3 R4; 2010 Q7 R12
“We had a strong race in Japan, now I hope we can take maintain that momentum through practice, qualifying and the race next weekend.”
“The Korean International Circuit is quite a demanding place – every time you feel you’re settling into a rhythm, the track changes direction quite unexpectedly. It doesn’t have a flow of some of the other new modern facilities we’ve been to in recent years, such as the Buddh International Circuit or Istanbul Park.
“The first sector is comprised of long straights: Turns One, Three and Four are all preceded by big braking zones and require good traction at their exits. The final sector is much slower – it almost feels like a street circuit – and, again, it compromises that feeling of flow that you’re looking for throughout the lap.
“I didn’t have a great race here back in 2010, but things were better last year – I finished fourth, although it was still the only circuit in the second half of the season at which I didn’t appear on the podium. Our pace in recent races has been consistently strong, so that makes me feel confident that I can secure my best-ever result there next weekend.”
Car 4: Lewis Hamilton
- Age 27 (January 7 1985)
- GPs 105
- Wins 20
- Poles 24
- FLs 11
- 2012 points 152 (4th)
- Korea record 2011 Q1 R2; 2010 Q4 R2
“The car that I ended the race with in Japan felt great – and I’m confident that we’ll kick off the race weekend in Korea with a strong package. I put the car on pole there last year. That was a very significant moment for me – I’d been trying so hard all year to get a pole, and it took everything I had to get the best out of the car. It was a huge effort, and a bit overwhelming at the time.
“In the race, unfortunately, we just didn’t have the pace to stay with Sebastian [Vettel] in the Red Bull – he was able to dive past me and pull away. I still managed to finish second, though: it was an unbelievably tough race – I had a handling problem because the front wing was clogged up with tyre debris, so I had to try everything to keep Mark [Webber] behind me.
“I think we’ve had the potential to win both Korean Grands Prix in the past, but I’ve never had a race weekend there on which everything has gone quite right for me. We’ve got momentum on our side once again, so I head to Korea determined to fight for victory.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“The Korean Grand Prix is still very much a new venue for Formula 1, and I hope that the third edition of the race will help further to cement our sport’s reputation in a country that clearly embraces high technology.
“In many ways the circuit is one of the most impressive facilities we visit all year. The track configuration has been supremely well designed to generate good and close racing – something we witnessed with some degree of tension last year as Lewis valiantly battled to keep himself ahead of Mark Webber. In fact, Lewis used every trick in the book – and a few more! – to finish a brilliant second.
“The result in Suzuka showed that anything can still happen in this world championship. I’m still convinced that we can fight for, and win, both titles in 2012 – and we head to Korea determined to narrow the gap to the top in both world championship points tables.”
The Korean International Circuit has staged two grands prix in its three-year history and McLaren has finished on the podium in both. Here’s how the team defined two days in the history of the race:
1. October 24 2010
The inaugural Korean Grand Prix starts behind the Safety Car and is stopped after three laps due to heavy rain. It is re-started 40 minutes later, still behind the Safety Car, and eventually goes green on lap 17. Lewis drives a tenacious race to second place, taking the chequered flag in near darkness after the race lasts a total of 2hr48mins!
2. October 23 2011
Lewis ends Red Bull Racing’s run of 16 consecutive pole positions when he qualifies 0.2s clear of the field. He has to settle for second place in the race after Sebastian Vettel passes him on the first lap and opens a gap of 12 seconds during the course of the 55-lap race. Jenson comes home fourth in the other MP4-26.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
2012 KOREAN GRAND PRIX, YEONGAM, 11-14 OCTOBER, PREVIEW
Formula One moves from Japan to Korea this week to complete the first of the three sets of double-header races scheduled before the end of the 2012 season. Round16, the Korean Grand Prix, will be held for the third time on Sunday 14 October at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam
- Twelve of the circuit’s 18 corners are taken at speeds of 200 kph or below, including six slower than 100 kph
- In addition to the many slow and medium-speed corners, the cars also exceed 280 kph four times every lap
- Last year’s race featured a total of 29 overtaking moves, just two more than last year’s race in Valencia
Korea is one of the more recent additions to the Formula One calendar, and that’s still reflected in the fact that we don’t get too many fans at the race. It’s a pity, because the circuit layout makes for good racing, but I think the situation is improving each year. It’s a very challenging track and well designed, which lots of the drivers enjoy.
The basic characteristics should be more favourable for us than in Japan, so we’re heading to Korea in a positive mood.
It’s good that we have a back-to-back race this weekend, so I have the chance of a better result within seven days. I think the recent updates on our car will be better suited to this circuit, so I hope we can make a step forward performance-wise. I enjoy the circuit a lot and I am excited to get to Korea after following the new Gangnam craze on the internet in the last few months. When I have some time away from the car and engineering meetings, I’m definitely looking forward to his performance this weekend.
After the race in Japan on Sunday, the team headed straight to Korea to begin our preparations for the back-to-back weekend. Although we had a challenging time at Suzuka, we were able to learn quite a lot about the car and its performance which has provided some good data to look through this week before the next race gets underway. The track at the Korean International Circuit is an interesting one, with a much slower layout than many of the tracks that we visit. The sport is still very new in Korea but we hope to see the interest continue to grow this year.
Looking to this weekend in Korea, the circuit has a very different character to Suzuka – the Yeongam circuit features many more slow corners, with six of them taken below 100 kph, which is particularly slow for a Formula One car. The Suzuka weekend showed that, at such a challenging circuit, there are several different teams within a few tenths of a second in terms of race performance. Our task in Korea is to ensure we return to a level that will allow us to achieve better starting positions than in Suzuka, so that we can target better results in the race.
Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Räikkönen: “How do I learn a new circuit? I drive it…”
After another battling drive to clinch P6 in Japan, Kimi faces the rare challenge of an unknown circuit as the Formula 1 circus rolls on to Korea. Is the Iceman phased? Not a chance…
Was P6 about what you expected from the Japanese Grand Prix or did you feel more was possible?
Sixth wasn’t the result we were hoping for. We lost some time with all the incidents on the first lap and also had a problem in the second pit stop, so overall it was quite a difficult race. Unfortunately even considering those things we didn’t have the speed to do better today. Maybe we could have stayed ahead of Lewis [Hamilton] if things had gone a bit differently but there was no real chance to be higher than fifth. The start looked quite frantic for you; how did you see it from inside the car? The first corner was very tight. I got an okay start and was on the left alongside Fernando [Alonso] straight away. He kept moving further across until there was nowhere left for me to go and his wheel touched my front wing. We had some damage and I think he got a puncture so it was not a great start to the race but there was not a lot I could do differently. What can you take away from this race heading to Korea? The good thing is we still managed to score points to stay in touch in the championship. For sure we have some work to do if we want to catch the people in front, but there are still five races left and anything can happen. What are your thoughts heading to a new track? I’ve never been to Korea, but it doesn’t make a difference for me. Since I was very young I have always been able to pick up circuits very quickly. This has not changed. What do you do to learn a new circuit? I drive it. I know some drivers work hard in simulators to learn a new circuit, but they are not for me. I have never played the Playstation or spent too much time in the simulator and it doesn’t seem to have affected my performance in the past. We have three hours practice on Friday and a further one hour before qualifying on Saturday so all the drivers will know the circuit very well.
Are you looking forward to visiting a new country?
It’s always interesting to race at a new venue and I enjoy going to different places. It gives me a good feeling. It is exciting to be going there for the first time and to start work by walking around the circuit and checking all the corners. I’ve seen a Korean Grand Prix on TV, but we’ll have to wait until the first laps of FP1 on Friday to get to grips with the circuit. Hopefully we will have normal weather there and will not miss any track time on Friday because of rain or technical issues. What’s your approach for the weekend? I will approach Yeongam the same way I approach every race – with the intention of going there to do my very best.
Romain Grosjean: “I’m eager to get back out on track”
Having left Suzuka with plenty to think about in the wake of a turbulent Japanese Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean is relishing the challenge of a new circuit for him in Korea and a chance to make amends…
Firstly, what went wrong in Suzuka?
Since Singapore, I’ve been trying to be really cautious at the starts and it’s been all the more frustrating to be involved in an incident in Japan. When approaching the first corner, I was watching Sergio [Perez] on my left to make sure there was no contact with him. I didn’t expect such a big speed difference between me and Mark [Webber] braking into the corner, we collided and that was it. It was a stupid mistake. Mark [Webber] came to see me after the race and was obviously not happy, but I apologised and we have to move on. I’ve sat down and looked at things again with the team; for sure it’s still an area we need to improve. We’re clearly focusing on this area for the next races. You retired from the race not far from the end – was there an issue? We tried running a long final stint but my tyre performance dropped off significantly. We were a long way out of the points and making another stop so late in the race wouldn’t have made sense from a tactical or safety standpoint so retiring was the only sensible option. What were the positives from the weekend? Qualifying was certainly a highlight, and the way we all worked together as a team to dial in the set-up of the car which was not where we wanted it at the start of the weekend. In qualifying we were easily through to Q3 and the car even had the pace to be further up the grid. I took the most satisfaction from how well me and my engineers worked through the weekend to extract more performance from the car. The track has a bit of a split personality with the three long straights and some tight and twisty sections; does that make setting up the car difficult? It’s the same for many circuits. There will be corners where we may be good and some where we may not be as strong. We know our strengths as well as out weakness, so hopefully we can improve on those in Korea and through to the end of the season. How do you cope as a driver when you have to make such a compromise on setup? A compromise is not always the best solution. Everyone on the grid has their own driving preferences – some may like a very light car at high speed for example – so you have to try and find the best solution for your own style. Normally we adapt ourselves quite well in that sense and it will be another interesting challenge. What are your thoughts on Korea as a country? Seoul was very nice when I visited it last year; it’s a fascinating combination of Asian culture with some European flavour too. The circuit is quite remote and it’s a very different part of Korea from Seoul. It’s certainly a different experience from that of many other Grands Prix. The track looks to be a good challenge and it’s going to be great to be racing in front of new fans for Formula 1. Do you like visiting new countries and meeting new fans? Yes, I do like travelling and seeing new fans. We’ve just left Japan where the supporters are very enthusiastic; they even gave me a flag signed by many people which was really nice. In Korea Formula 1 is new so it’s fascinating seeing the sport grow and meeting new followers.
Eric Boullier: “Cautiously optimistic”
The past few races may have been less than straightforward, but Team Principal Eric Boullier retains absolute faith in the unity of the Enstone family as the season nears its final phase…
What do we say after Suzuka?
Obviously, it didn’t go as well as expected. Of course, I could always say that we’ve increased our gap to Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, that Kimi is still third in the drivers’ classification, that our pace in qualifying was actually very good… But, ultimately, we scored 8 points only where, after P3 on Saturday, we could have thought about a much better result. It would have been possible to close our gap to Ferrari in the standing and, ultimately, it has increased. Not ideal. What do you think of Romain’s incident at the start?
We could see in Singapore, when Romain was back after his race ban, that some other drivers were putting extra pressure on him at the start. In Suzuka, Romain made a small mistake by misjudging his pace relative to Mark [Webber], which was a bit higher. We have sat down and spoken. We understand what has to be done. I think in Singapore to an extent and in Suzuka he was almost trying to overcompensate by focusing on staying out of trouble, which in the last race had the opposite effect.
Kimi never seemed to have the pace… You’re right, the car’s pace was not as good as we were expecting and it actually became worse as the race progressed. Starting seventh we had higher hopes, but if you don’t have the pace completely it doesn’t work well. We couldn’t put everything together in order to make his race more successful and gain more places. What are your hopes for the upgrades scheduled for Korea? Every time you bring new developments you hope that they will work as predicted. The upgrades for Korea are a big step; it is the opening of a new era for us. We expect that they are going to work, but of course it’s always a difficult task to find the correct setup for the car when you are also evaluating new parts. What happened with our “DDRS” shows that you can’t take any improvement for granted until you actually measured it on the track. Let’s say that we are cautiously optimistic. What are your thoughts on the team’s potential in the Championship?
I think the nearer we get to the end of the season, the more difficult it will be to achieve top results. We need to stay united though, stay focused on our job and make sure we can bring home more points. We’re certainly facing less pressure from behind than we could have expected with a 104 point buffer from Mercedes in fifth, however it’s starting to become harder now to catch Ferrari ahead of us in third position. Coming into Suzuka with a 14 point difference and six races to go was a lot more achievable than 24 points with five remaining. What’s clear is that we need to get both of our cars into the points. We also need to add performance to the E20 so we are not having to trade paint with Ferrari, but are well ahead of them on the track instead.
James Allison: “The potential gain of the Coandă system surpasses that of our current design”
With new developments for the E20 showing positive signs in Suzuka and a raft of further upgrades scheduled for Korea, James Allison explains why the E20 is far from being out of the running with a quarter of the 2012 season remaining…
What do we have new on the car for Korea?
We’ve been ploughing something of a lonely furrow on the circuit with our relatively straightforward, power-maximizing exhaust. However, since well before the launch of the E20 and to the present day we’ve been carrying out parallel developments in our wind tunnel programme based around a Coandă effect exhaust. Once we saw the potential gain of the Coandă system surpass that of our current design it was clear that we needed to implement it, both for the benefit we could get in the last quarter of this season and also for learning experience it presents us for next year. We will run our first version of this style of exhaust in Korea. Are there a lot of changes involved with the Coandă system? It is not as big a deal as the 2011 style blown exhausts. Last year (for all teams, but especially for our forward exhausts) it was quite challenging to ensure that the exhausts did not set fire to the car. The Coandă system is a little more indirect, and the jet has cooled a little before it impinges on the floor which makes things a little easier to manage. There’s still a fair amount of rearrangement including new Coke panels, new exhausts, new exhaust exit panels, some fireproofing of the floor and so on. All told, it’s a biggish change rather than an enormous one. It’s also easier to swap to and fro for evaluation. Where do we stand on the implementation of the Double DRS ‘Device’? We haven’t had the happiest of introductions with the system. It’s been harder than I anticipated to make it switch effectively with only the limited opportunity afforded in Free Practice. We’re going to take it away, have another think and most likely give it another go in the Abu Dhabi young drivers’ test where we’ll have more time to develop it in a systematic fashion. The team’s other upgrades gave the impression of working quite well – at least for qualifying – in Suzuka? It was quite pleasing that we were able to resurrect the upgrades that left Singapore under something of a cloud. It’s annoying when something that the tunnel says will be good does not work straight away, but it is very easy at the track to end up with a false negative – as we did in Singapore. The problem is that the track is a very uncontrolled testing environment. It’s always a relief when you find out at the second attempt that the factory modelling was correct after all. Is there any reason why we didn’t have the race pace in Suzuka? We took a little bit of damage in the first lap incident with Kimi and subsequently saw some loss of aerodynamic performance as the race progressed. We had respectable qualifying positions in Suzuka, but if we can succeed with our upgrades it ought to put some fairly clear air between us and the squabbling pack. Any fears about how the Yeongam circuit should suit the E20? It’s a bit like Germany. The first part of the circuit is largely straights and sweeping curves and the second half a series of slower speed corners. It averages out as a fairly ordinary type of track with slightly more overtaking opportunities than average. The weather may be a little cooler than we would ideally like it, but we are expecting a good weekend.
Tech Talk: Korea
Downforce levels here are similar to those of Suzuka, and although Korea does have very long straight, the corners are sufficient to justify carrying a touch more wing rather than focusing purely on speed when pointing in one direction. It’s closer to a Spa or Canada type track than a Monaco or Hungary set-up. BRAKES This is not a circuit with extreme braking demands, however there are three significant areas of speed retardation – Turns 1, 3 and 4 – which are all at the end of long straights. SUSPENSION Car set-up here is a compromise between reasonably good change of direction at high speed – necessitating a stiffer set-up – and the opposing demands of slower speed corners like Turns 1, 4, 6 – which need a softer set-up. One of the features of this track is that it is incredibly smooth, and there are no significant kerbs. This means the car can run very low and close to the ground, especially as there are no notable bumps in the surface. TYRES Pirelli’s soft and super soft are allocated. The fast corners mean that it has the highest lateral energy loading of all the circuits where the supersoft tyre is used. FRONT WING A ‘reasonable’ amount of front wing is needed to balance the car through the medium and high speed corners; slightly more than at a lower speed circuit, but not as much as at Silverstone or Suzuka. ENGINE Korea sits in the middle of the power-driveability ratio, with engine demands similar to those of Australia. A mix of good driveability through the medium to low speed corners, responsiveness out of the slower chicanes / hairpins combined with good top end power for the three long straights is required. Good traction is essential for the lower speed corners such as Turns 1, 4, and 6, meaning smooth power delivery from the engine is an advantage here. Fuel consumption is very high over one lap due to the stop-start nature of the final sector.
Track Guide: Korea International Circuit
High braking demands in the latter part of Turn 1 can potentially make life difficult for the drivers at the start of the race, when the cars are at their heaviest and tyres at their coolest.
APPROACHING TURN 3
Over 300kph is reached on the approach to Turn 3 before heavy braking into this tight right-hander. Higher speeds could be attained on this long straight, however wing levels required for the remainder of the lap mean that maximum velocity is constrained by drag and gearing.
TURNS 4 – 6
More heavy braking demands here after a significant straight leading into the slowest section of the track, where good low speed change of direction and mechanical grip are required.
TURNS 7 – 13
Turns 7-13 are quite long, sweeping corners, relying on good downforce and balance from the car. Turn 8 is the fastest point – taken at almost 300kph – before heading to the slower turns 9 and 10. Overall quite a satisfying section of race track for the drivers.
TURNS 14 –18
Good change of direction is again required from the car through this sequence – which bears a striking resemblance to Valencia – with the walls being close enough to punish any mistake. Turn 17 is particularly important, requiring good exit speed heading on to the start / finish straight.
Turn 17 is actually quite high speed heading on to the first straight.
An Education from the Professor
Formula 1 icon Alain Prost was a guest of honour at the latest World Series by Renault event, and although the legendary Frenchman spent much of the weekend taming a bull, a man of The Professor’s style and finesse is far better suited to black and gold… Stepping into Lotus F1 Team’s 2010 challenger – the R30 – for a few laps of the Paul Ricard Circuit, the four-time World Champion settled quickly into the rhythm of a modern Formula 1 car, and from his expression afterwards was suitably impressed with the technological advances in the sport since his last appearance on the grid:
“I didn’t imagine I could have so much fun, stepping back into a Formula 1 car. I’ve had many opportunities in the past and have always said no, but it’s been a good day. After sixteen years out of Formula 1 it felt quite strange to be back in the cockpit but I felt quite comfortable straight away, although I didn’t want to push too hard and make a mistake!”
“I can definitely see the sport in a different way now, as when you have been out for such a long time you don’t know exactly what happens in the cockpit. Formula 1 has always been the pinnacle of technology, but in technology there is no limit. Everything is improving all the time, even if it’s just the small things.”
So, could this mark a spectacular Räikkönen-esque return to the paddock? How would Kimi, Romain and Jérôme fare if thrown into a car from the Prost era? As always, the smiling Professor remained calculated in his response… AP:
“A comeback? Ah! You never know… It’s good to do it once and yes, I’d like to do it again but definitely in better conditions. With a properly fitted seat and driving position on a dry track I would be able to feel the car much better; these things really limit you when you want to push a little more.”
“I said to Romain that I think it’s easier to be a driver from the past and then go to the new car. These young guys going back to the old car have encountered a totally different environment; they even found a gearstick in their cockpit! If you want to have an experience, and a strange experience, then you should drive a car from the eighties!”
We Are Sailing…
Fresh from the London 2012 Olympics, Lotus F1 Team welcomed members of the Royal Yachting Association coaching team through the doors of Enstone last week. Think the factory sounds like a bizarre place for sailing practice? We certainly did! It may have been raining quite frequently in our quiet corner of Oxfordshire – almost non-stop in fact – but we’d stop short of deeming the sodden Lotus F1 Team HQ vessel-worthy!
Nonetheless, the band of six sea-farers arrived at the teams’ Conference Centre kitted out in their official Team GB gear for an athletic feat of a somewhat different variety; pit-stop practice. Charged with providing development and training to future generations of athletes, these elite sporting mentors took part in a unique experience aimed at providing them with all the tools required to become natural leaders in their field.
So, with these chaps now fully educated on the nuances of Formula 1 pit-stop techniques, perhaps it’s time for the Enstone mates to tackle the seven seas? Given the weather patterns at certain Grand Prix weekends of late, we’re sure Kimi and Romain would take to it like ducks to water…
The Drivers’ A-Z…
Winning the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship.
Romain made his Formula 1 debut at the 2009 European Grand Prix.
Our History: Korean Grand Prix
Lotus F1 Team made its Korean Grand Prix debut in 2010 under the Renault name, with Polish Robert Kubica and Russian Vitaly Petrov at the wheel.
The team’s record at the Korea International Circuit has not been a particularly formidable one, with just a handful of points registered to date thanks to Robert Kubica’s P5 finish in 2010. The team will be aiming for a much better result this weekend after what has been a far more promising 2012 season thus far…
The Korea International Circuit will also be a new challenge for both Kimi and Romain; neither of whom have competed at this venue since its addition to the Formula 1 calendar two seasons ago. With the Finn’s natural versatility and the Frenchman having already demonstrated his skills at adapting to previously unknown venues, it would take a brave soul to rule out their chances this weekend…
In Numbers: Korea International Circuit
Highest g-force experienced for 2 seconds at T7
% of the lap spent braking
Total straight per lap (%)
% of lap at full throttle 56: Gear changes per lap 70: Lowest apex speed (kmh) at T3 280: Highest apex speed (kmh) at T8
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2012 Korean Grand Prix Preview
Sahara Force India looks forward to the Korean Grand Prix. To view the pdf preview click on the link below.
Korean GP: Vijay’s Vision
Dr Mallya reflects on another points finish for Nico and looks ahead to the final five races…
Dr Mallya, last weekend the team scored points in Japan for the first time. How would you sum up the performance?
It was a decent weekend for Nico and a good recovery drive considering the issues we had on Saturday morning. It was unfortunate to have the grid penalty for the gearbox change, but I think seventh place was a fair result given our pace during the weekend. On the other side of the garage we underachieved with Paul, but it was not his fault. With the clutch issue at the beginning of the race he fell back significantly and his race was hurt badly as a result. If we had done a little better and had two cars in the points we would have been a bit closer to Sauber now.
Last year the team came on very strong at the close of the season – can we expect the same this year?
I think we are having a strong end to the season already. We have scored points in the last four races, including two fourth places, and we’ve already scored more points than we did during the whole of last year. Our car will suit some tracks more than others, but as long as we keep picking up the points we can keep the pressure on the teams around us. Korea should be good for us and hopefully Abu Dhabi and India.
As you say, both drivers have been close to the podium this year – that must be the goal in the final five races…
A podium has been goal since the start of the year. It’s what we need if we are to get closer to sixth in the championship. We’ve got two very competitive drivers and they’ve shown already that either one of them is capable of doing it under the right conditions. With five races to go there is still plenty to play for and we won’t give up until the chequered flag drops in Brazil.
Nico on Korea
Nico Hulkenberg reflects on his seventh place in Japan and remembers past success in Korea.
Nico, on Sunday you had a big smile on your face – how are you feeling a few days on…
I’m still smiling, to be honest. The result in Japan was not something I was expecting and I was especially pleased with the race pace and the balance of the car. It was not the most straightforward weekend so it felt good to recover things on Sunday and come away with some useful points.
The VJM05 performed well in Singapore and Japan, two very different tracks – that must be encouraging for the remainder of the season…
Suzuka was the track we were most worried about in the final part of the year and in the end we did okay. I think compared to the start of the year we probably understand the car a lot better and that’s helping us find more performance, and improve our race pace.
What are you expectations for this weekend in Korea?
I enjoy visiting Korea and the track is fun to drive. I didn’t drive there last year during free practice, but I have some good memories from 2010 with Williams when I scored a point in the very wet race. I think we can go there and get a good result because it’s a track that’s a mixture of everything: low-speed, high-speed and straights. The final sector feels just like a street circuit and it’s quite technical with some challenging corners.
Paul on Korea
Paul Di Resta looks ahead to this weekend’s race.
Paul, we’re in the middle of back-to-back races in Asia – what have you been up to since Sunday’s race?
After a testing weekend in Japan I just want to get back in the car as soon as possible, so I’m pleased that I have the chance to try and bounce back straight away in Korea. I’ve spent a few days in Tokyo doing some light training and cleared my mind ready for this weekend.
Do you feel that catching Sauber is still a realistic goal with five races to go?
Mathematically it is realistic to take the fight to Sauber, but to get ahead of them we will need to be in the points at all the remaining races. Sauber were on the podium again in Japan, which makes our task even more difficult, but we are hopeful that the tracks coming up will be more suited to us – certainly compared to Suzuka. To beat them we will need to be on top of all the issues we had in Japan.
Are you feeling more confident about the car’s performance this weekend?
You never know until you get there and start running, but last year we had a good race and came away with some points. The first sector of the lap is mainly long straights linked by low-speed corners and those technical parts of the lap seem to suit us – as was the case in Singapore. Also, it’s just one of those tracks that I enjoy driving and I’m looking forward to getting the weekend underway.
Sauber F1 Team
- Preview – Korean Grand Prix
- 16th of 20 Rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 12.-14.10.2012
After a breathtaking Japanese Grand Prix with Kamui Kobayashi clinching his first podium in Formula One, the Sauber F1 Team wants to build on the momentum as it heads to South Korea for round 16 of the FIA Formula One World Championship on 14th October. With 116 points to its tally, the Sauber F1 Team has made up ground in its fight for fifth place in the constructors’ championship and lies just 20 points behind.
Kamui Kobayashi (car number 14):
“Last year Korea was an extremely difficult race, because we were significantly too slow. But this is the past and things are looking much better now. We can build on the momentum we have and, therefore, I’m confident this time we can score points. We have to expect the track to have a low grip level, especially in the beginning, but this will change during the weekend. Once the track is rubbered in some high-speed sections combined with slower corners are fun to drive. I think our car should be competitive on this track.”
Sergio Pérez (car number 15):
“The track layout in Yeongam is quite challenging. There are some high-speed corners and in general the circuit has quite a variety of corners. Therefore it is not easy to find a good rhythm but this is crucial for a good lap time. In Suzuka our car had a very good pace and I hope we can keep the momentum for the next round in South Korea. However, because we are usually lacking a bit of straight-line speed, it won’t be an easy Grand Prix for us. I will give my very best and I definitely want to make the most out of the remaining races I compete in for the Sauber F1 Team.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“The Yeongam circuit is a modern race track which has a bit of everything. The first sector has three straights with two sharp corners in between and also a low-speed section with tight corners at the end. Then the second sector features medium to high-speed corners before going back into a twisty sector three. The tarmac is not abrasive and the allocated Pirelli tyre compounds are soft and super soft, which I think should fit. However, the grip build up is rather slow during this race weekend because there are almost no support races on the programme. With regard to our possibilities, overall it should be an average circuit for us with the first section being the difficult one. The C31 will obviously be running with the new components we introduced in Suzuka but, given it is a back-to-back event, won’t have any further updates.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Korean GP Preview
- When: Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October, 2012
- Where: Yeongam, Korea
- Round: 16 of 20
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: After a disappointing qualifying in Suzuka both drivers demonstrated very good pace in the race, with Pastor securing a solid 8th place. We now move onto Korea looking to capitalise on this pace and therefore need to ensure a better qualifying result. The 55 lap Korean race will be run using the soft and supersoft tyres, as per Monaco, Canada and Singapore. This is a medium to high speed circuit with a smooth track surface. In previous years we have seen a large grip evolution throughout the sessions and one should expect the same this weekend. With this large amount of evolution it is important to ensure that both cars set-up also evolves with the circuit so track time is therefore very important. Currently the forecast is predicting a dry weekend.
Pastor Maldonado: The Korean International Circuit is not a typical track for us but it is one of the newest and we’re enjoying racing there. We aim to be competitive and will be working to adapt the car set-up to this low grip track. There is a good combination of corners and the last sector is a medium speed flowing sequence which is very technical. I look forward to getting there and having a great race.
Bruno Senna: The Korean Grand Prix is different to other races. It’s a high downforce circuit so should suit our car. It’s also one of the tracks we have the least amount of practice on as it is fairly new to the calendar and therefore we haven’t had any running in our simulator, so it will be interesting to see how we get on. There’s a mix of high speed corners with lower speed technical sections. We’ll need to work very hard to score some good points.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: Korea is pretty much in the middle of the table for engine challenges. The first sector has three long straights linked by either sharp hairpins or right angled, slow speed corners. Since a high percentage of this is taken at full throttle, we’ll be working on providing good top speed, but also optimal engine braking and traction in the heavy braking zones of turn one and three. The second sector is reminiscent of Suzuka, with fast flowing turns leading into the final, slower sector, which represents a technical challenge to both engineers and drivers alike.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For Korea we have the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft compounds, and it’s likely to be the last time that we see the supersofts in action this year. Last year we made the same nominations for Korea and some people thought that was a bold choice in view of the demanding nature of the circuit, although in the end it worked out really well. This year we have the same nomination, but the soft is softer than the equivalent compound last year, so there should be a smaller gap in performance between two tyres. As the circuit is not used extensively during the year, we expect to see quite a high degree of track evolution as the weekend goes on, so car set-up is vital to avoid graining at the start of the weekend in particular.
Korean Grand PrixView
Race Laps: 55
Straight line speed is important
Track is very dusty with low grip in FP1 which increases front tyre graining
The pit lane is also very slippery
Track grip evolution starts from the first minutes of FP1
The front right tyre is often suffers most wear overall
The circuit is also hard on the rear tyres, particularly through T10-T17
Bumpy through the high speed section T7-T8
Riding the kerbs riding is not a priority
There are three high power braking events but in general the circuit has low brake cooling demands
Wind direction has a significant effect on top speed
In 2011 grip level was higher than expected
Air / track temp ( C): 22 / 26
Pitlane altitude (m): 0
ATM Press (HPA): 1018
Hum (%): 50
Wind (kph): W10
P1: HAM (1:35.820 Q3)
P2: VET (1:36.042 Q3)
P3: BUT (1:36.125 Q3)
CF1T best: P19 KOV (1:40.522 Q1)
P1: VET (1:39.605 L52)
P2: HAM (1:40.459 L54)
P3: VET (1:40.294 L55)
CF1T best: P14 KOV (1:42.456 L52)
Bumpiness: T7 and T8
Overtaking chance: low
Ride height setting particularity: none, quite low at the front
Engine severity: medium / high
Gearbox severity: low
Lat/Long grip: lateral
Aero eff ratio: medium / low
Safety car history: 2011 – one (16 – 19), 2010 – 4 (1-3, 4 – 17, 20 – 23, 31 – 34)
Track grip evo during w/e: medium
Aero settings: high
Brake wear severity: low
Brake cooling necessity: medium / lows
Giedo van der Garde (driving FP1 in Vitaly Petrov’s car): “I’m looking forward to my second FP1 in a row in Korea after driving the first Friday in Suzuka. The Korean track is another new circuit for me so I’ve spent quite a lot of time at home on my own simulator to get used to the layout but you never really know what it’s like until you actually get on track.
“It looks like it’s a pretty technical circuit and one that will take a few laps to find all the right braking points and apexes, especially as a couple of the corners are blind, but it’ll be fine. The plan for Korea is the same as Suzuka – run through the program, minimise the mistakes and get the job done for the team.”
A lap of Korea with Heikki Kovalainen, car 20, chassis CT01-#03: “The start / finish straight is pretty short and then it’s into the second gear turn one. It’s very tight and you need a good exit to make sure you go onto the first long straight with as much speed as possible, using KERS to really push you out of the corner and towards T2. Braking into turn 3 is pretty straightforward – it’s another second gear corner and you want to come out of there with as much speed as possible so you’re using another big chunk of KERS and DRS to power your way out.
“Turn four is almost 180° so it’s down to second or even first gear, depending on the balance of the car. If you have a really strong front end you may be able to get through in second, otherwise you need first. Turns five and six are a bit fiddly, still in second, but then the speed builds as you go uphill through turn seven and you stay flat out through eight. It’s a really quick section of the track, you lift a little in nine, carrying as much speed as possible as you very quickly arrive in the braking zone for turn ten.
“For turn ten you go quickly down through the gears to first and it’s not so important to get on the power early, it’s more about carrying speed through the middle and exit of the corner and then it’s on to turn 11, a double apex left which you go into in fourth and then flick down to third as you head towards turn 12.
“12, 13 and 14 are a sequence of right / left / right corners, all medium speed, third or fourth gear and you need to make sure you have the right line out of them for turn 15. 15 and 16 are almost one corner but you have to avoid a pretty heavy kerb in 16 so you can get on the power and stay on it through 17 and 18 and back on to the start line.”
Thoughts on Korea from Vitaly Petrov, car 21, chassis CT01-#02: “I like Korea. The first time it was on the calendar was in my first year in F1 and when I got there I was really surprised to see so many Russian flags in the stands. It was the same in 2011 and I’m sure it’ll be like that again in 2012 and it’s always good to race in front of so many fans from home.
“The track itself was a pretty tricky one to learn when I first went out on it in 2010. There’s a few blind apexes and correct gear selection is really important to get the quickest laptimes, but now we’ve done a couple of races there we know what direction we need to take on setup so we can get on with it as soon as we arrive.
”In the race itself there’s a strong chance of safety cars during the race, both races so far have seen safety cars, so we need to be prepared for that. We know we don’t yet have the pace to really fight with the cars ahead but we need to be ready to take advantage of whatever happens in front of us, and perhaps this is the sort of race where we can do that.”
HRT F1 Team
Korean Grand Prix Preview
- 12th-14th October
- Korea International Circuit – 55 laps – 5.615 km
- Mokpo, Tuesday the 9th of October 2012
The Formula 1 World Championship continues in the Far East as it leaves Japan behind and heads to South Korea. It will be the fifth back-to-back race in the season meaning that the teams have no time to relax and must maintain their levels of work and concentration. In Suzuka, HRT Formula 1 Team proved to have taken a step forward with the aero upgrade which was introduced in Singapore, and the Spanish team hopes to continue with this progress in Yeongam. Dani Clos will return to the F112 for the first free practice session, replacing Narain Karthikeyan and will join Pedro de la Rosa for the sixth time this season.
The Korea International Circuit was built in 2010 and staged its first Formula 1 Grand Prix that same year. It’s an anti-clockwise track which is made up of a permanent and temporary section. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit has a 1.2 km straight where cars reach speeds of over 310 km/h. But the skill of the driver and the brakes on the car are also tested in the section of slow corners.
Pirelli has elected its soft and supersoft tyre compounds for this Grand Prix.
Pedro de la Rosa: “I know very little of Korea because I’ve never run there, all I know of the circuit is from my work on the simulator. As it’s a track that’s barely used the surface is very slippery. So we’ve got no time to lose and will have to do as many laps as possible to get to know the track. It should be a circuit that’s better suited to us than Suzuka. Also, after having seen that in Japan the new floor is an evident step forward, I’m really looking forward to it. But there’s no doubt that we have a lot of work ahead”.
Narain Karthikeyan: “From what I’ve seen the Korea International Circuit is very complete as it is a mix of various things such as very close walls, quick corners, long straights and hairpins. I’ve never raced there so I’ll have to make the most of my time on track to adapt and set the car up. After having retired in two consecutive races I’m looking forward to this Grand Prix and hoping to find some luck again and return to a positive line of results”.
Dani Clos: “Driving the F112 is always a great satisfaction and I feel very lucky and thankful to the team for this new opportunity they have given to me to drive in the first free practice session in Korea. Like always, I’m going to give my 100% and my main objective is to work for the team to complete the established programme in the best way possible. To be able to contribute, even in a modest way, makes me very proud and, personally, it’s an experience that is helping me to grow as a driver. And even more so having someone like Pedro next to me”.
Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “Just like the drivers I don’t know the Korea International Circuit but what I do know is that we’re arriving in good form and aiming to progress as we did in Suzuka. The important thing will be to adapt as soon as possible to optimize our set-up without losing any time. Due to its characteristics, it’s a track where we should perform well, so we’ll work as hard as we can to maintain and improve our competitiveness. We’re not lacking any determination or motivation. I’m happy to be giving Dani another opportunity and for him to contribute to Pedro and Narain’s important work on the F112”.
Marussia F1 Team
- What we’re saying about the 2012 Korean Grand Prix
- Korea International Circuit, Yeongam
- 12-14 October 2012
All you need to know >>> Race date 14 October…Laps 55…Circuit length 5.615 km…Race distance 308.630 km…18 corners, 11 left-handers, 7 right…Circuit direction anti-clockwise…Lap record 1:39.605 (Sebastian Vettel – 2011)…First hosted a Formula 1 race in 2010, track located in South Jeolla region, in southwestern part of Korean peninsula and 370 km from the Korean capital of Seoul, a rural location with magnificent mountain ranges…Tyre nomination – Pirelli PZero Yellow Soft and Red Supersoft same as Monaco, Canada and Singapore, and this track will test every aspect of the tyres’ performance…
It’s another short hop in the space of a week as the Marussia F1 Team embarks on its fifth back to back race of the 2012 season – this time from Japan to Korea. Suzuka was a strong weekend for the team as the car continued to yield all the signs of a positive development trajectory, even at this late stage of the season. The team has performed well at the Korea International Circuit over the last two seasons and the objective here is to continue snapping at the heels of its immediate competitors and returning to its normal commendable record of reliability and two-car finishes.
Timo Glock, Driver #24
“Every year this is a bit of a strange race weekend because the track is not used very often outside of Formula 1. This makes it difficult on a Friday in particular as the track is always quite dirty and takes a while to come up to grip level. The weather can also be unpredictable, so the track condition can be a bit changeable also. It’s quite a technical track with a lot of corners where you have to take quite a strange line. I had a good race here last year though, and also in 2010 until my race was cut short when I was taken out whilst on track for what would have been 12th place. I like the circuit so I’m looking forward to the weekend and I hope we can get back to our usual two-car finish again.”
Charles Pic, Driver #25
“Japan ended in a disappointing way for me. With only a week between the two races, I have put that behind me and reset my mind to the Korean weekend. I’ve had a few days in Tokyo to do some training and prepare for another new circuit and I’m feeling good for the race ahead. From what I have seen of the track in simulation, it looks very interesting – especially sectors 1 and 3. Another anti-clockwise circuit also, which always adds an extra dimension in terms of the physical challenge. Most important now is keeping our focus and delivering our usual two-car finishes, so, as always, I will be playing my part in the team’s objectives as well as I can.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“Timo had a very good race in Japan last week and has a good record here in Korea also, so let’s hope that bodes well for our chances this weekend. In 2010 he was looking good for P12, mastering the treacherous conditions to put us in a vital position for the Championship. It would have been the team’s highest finishing position that season, and indeed all the way up to Singapore this year, but unfortunately he was taken out. This just goes to show how important Championship position is for the newer teams, and how hard it is to get there. Continuing – and indeed building on – our current positive performance level is our absolute focus now to give us a greater degree of comfort as we count down the last five races. Also important is getting back to our normal record of two-car finishes. Charles was doing a very solid job in the race last weekend, so it was a shame that he had to retire. His track position ahead of Vitaly shows how much he has developed in line with the performance of the car and we are fortunate to have two highly competitive drivers to continue to help us achieve our team objectives.”4PN
The Korean Grand Prix from a tyre point of view: Mokpo,12-14 October 2012
TOUGH CHALLENGE FOR P ZERO RED SUPERSOFT IN KOREA
What’s the story?
The Yeongam circuit takes in a very wide variety of speeds and corners, with Pirelli bringing the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft compounds: making it one of the toughest tracks that the softest tyre in the range has to cope with. As well as some corners that are as fast as those of the previous race in Suzuka, there are other sections more reminiscent of Monaco, meaning that every aspect of a tyre’s performance is tested thoroughly.
The circuit is used very infrequently, meaning that there is a high degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend as the racing line rubbers in, despite a relatively abrasive surface. Yeongam is actually a semi-permanent facility, with the section of track that runs along the harbourside using normal roads – and this means that variable levels of grip add to the challenge. As uncertain weather conditions are often a feature of the Korean weekend, the Cinturato Green and Cinturato Blue intermediate and wet tyres could also make an appearance.
Heavy braking is one of the defining characteristics of Korea, with the cars subjected to deceleration forces of 5.2g under braking into turn three. With the weight transfer involved, the front tyres are subjected to a load equivalent to 900 kilogrammes or more.
The most demanding part of the circuit for the tyres is the section from turns 10 to 17, which is a continuous sequence of corners with rapid direction changes. Being one of the few anti-clockwise circuits of the year, the front-right tyre is the most stressed as it has to provide all the mechanical grip needed to negotiate the corners, with the supersoft compound proving particularly effective in generating high levels of adhesion.
Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “We’re bringing the same tyre nominations to Korea as we did last year, which at the time was seen as quite a bold choice because Korea has the highest lateral energy loadings of all the circuits where we use the supersoft tyre. In the end, we saw the supersoft lasting for 10 laps or more and the soft lasting for 20 laps or more, enabling a two-stop strategy for the majority of the drivers. This year, however, all our Formula One tyres are softer apart from the supersoft, which has remained the same. We should see another two-stop race this year, which in theory should be even faster. This year though, there have been some changes to the aerodynamic regulations, which have generally slowed lap times down over the course of the season. Strategy played a key role in last year’s race but there was also a safety car and some rain at the start of the weekend. So Korea is the sort of circuit where anything can happen, and as always the teams with the most data and the ability to adapt that information to rapidly changing circumstances will be the most successful.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren): “The first sector at Korea is quite stop-start: the entries to Turns One, Three and Four are all heavy braking zones, coming at the end of long straights into hairpins that require good traction at the exit. But then the second and third sectors are very different: they’re more technical and flowing, which means the tyres and brakes are put through very different operating conditions, and it can be a bit of a challenge to manage the changes in temperature. As was the case last year, Pirelli will bring its supersoft and soft compounds to this race. The smooth track surface means you should be able to make the tyres last, but it’s still a challenge for the drivers. However, I think that two-stopping ought to be achievable, as it was last season. The Korean International Circuit is a great track. It’s a race I haven’t won yet, so I’ll be looking to put that right this year.”
Pirelli’s test driver says:
Jaime Alguersuari: “Korea is one of my favourite tracks, especially because I had one of my best results there last year when I passed Nico Rosberg on the last lap to finish seventh. I really like the track: the layout is fantastic and I actually think it is one of the best layouts on the Formula One calendar. It is a mixture of high and medium speed corners and the downforce level of the car is not so high. It is also very smooth and has some good places to overtake. From a tyre point of view, the circuit is easy on the tyres because the weather is usually quite cold and humid. We had two stops last year, and degradation will be low, so I think it should the same this year. There are three heavy braking areas on this circuit and it will be a fantastic race to watch: South Korea’s circuit has the potential to provide a perfect Formula One show.”
Technical tyre notes:
- The aerodynamic set-up adopted for Korea by the teams is quite similar to Japan, with medium to high levels of downforce. However, the traction demands are much higher than in Japan, so the teams use different engine maps to help put the power down out of the slow corners.
- Graining can be a risk in Korea, particularly in the low-grip conditions at the start of the weekend. Graining is caused when the cars slide sideways too much, creating an uneven wave-like pattern of wear on the surface of the tread that affects performance.
- There is a long straight right at the beginning of the lap, which means that it can be hard to warm up the tyres effectively at the beginning of the lap. Subjecting the tyres to too much stress when cold is another main reason for graining and cold tearing.
The tyre choices so far:
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Silver|
Pirelli in Korea:
Korea is the world’s fifth-largest car market and a significant opportunity for Pirelli. The Italian firm currently provides products in Korea through its three partners including Korea’s largest tyre chain. To help achieve steady market growth, Pirelli will open its first dedicated shop this month located in Jeonro-Gu, Seoul.
Pirelli’s dedicated Korean-language website will also launch this month. A multimedia platform will allow users to step into the world of Pirelli, getting to know the premium product ranges and the advanced technology behind them. There will also be updates on Pirelli’s motorsport activities, including Formula One. The web address is www.kr.pirelli.com
Other news from Pirelli:
Pirelli’s road car tyres played a starring role at the recent Paris motor show, with a bespoke version of the P Zero equipping the McLaren P1 sports car. The new Volkswagen Golf 7 was also unveiled, which uses Pirelli’s Cinturato P7 tyre as original equipment.
Ford Fiesta driver Elfyn Evans won the Pirelli-backed WRC Academy section of the Rallye de France last weekend in Alsace, sealing the championship title with one round left to go.
Former Pirelli Star Driver Keith Cronin became British Rally Champion for the third time on Pirelli tyres, at the International Rally Yorkshire in England, driving a Citroen DS3 R3T.
Pirelli recently supported the Green Rally of Montreal in Canada, a round of the FIA Alternative Energies Cup, by supplying the event with its Cinturato Green Performance tyres. The FIA Alternative Energies Cup is a world championship for vehicles with alternative energy propulsion.
Renault Sport F1
Korean Grand Prix Technical Feature
The torque map is probably the single most important reference map used in Formula 1 engine management.
It is the fingerprint of an engine and of critical importance for engine engineers to help optimise the on track engine performance.
“In its simplest form, the engine torque map is a theoretical model of the engine. It represents the torque output of the engine for a given engine throttle position and engine speed. In this respect it appears outwardly similar to a driver torque pedal map, the only change being the look-up against engine throttle position instead of the driver’s pedal. However, in reality, the differences are far more complex and wide reaching. From this map, you know for any given speed or throttle position that you should produce a certain amount of engine torque,” says Renault Sport F1 engine engineer David Lamb. “We then use that reference map to ensure the engine is behaving as it should out on the circuit. We measure the actual engine torque with an on-car sensor, and when you overlay this with the value predicted by the torque map, you shouldn’t notice any large differences. If you have a hesitation or a drivability issue, you will see it clearly because the measured torque will not match the reference torque.”
The torque map doesn’t change much over the course of a weekend, or between races. “Under the new technical directive, issued between the German and Hungarian Grands Prix, you can’t really change the maps that much over a weekend or between races. It’s like a fingerprint of the engine. There will be subtle differences between the teams due their respective air boxes and exhausts, which will slightly change the form of the map. Prior to this directive, we would change the torque map freely to suit the climatic conditions. For example, the engines will produce nearly 10% less torque at Sao Paulo than they will this weekend in Korea due to Sao Paulo’s high altitude. By changing the torque map to the prevailing conditions the engine response will feel the same to the driver across the season. Nowadays we have to request this torque map change from the FIA, and fully justify our reasoning.”
As well as ensuring the engine behaves as it should, the map is also used to improve the driveability of the car for the driver. “When the driver lifts off the pedal the engine can be either fired in four cylinders or fully cut, depending on the level of overrun support he requires,” explains David. “When the driver goes back on the pedal from full ignition cut, you need to inject more fuel than usual to ‘wet’ the engine. Inject too little or too much and you will have a torque deficit from target, which can cause a hesitation and a loss of lap time. The initial torque demand will generally be met with only four cylinders, as you’d rather save a bit of fuel and have four cylinders firing strongly using a more open throttle than have eight coming into life rather weakly with a relatively closed throttle.
“When the torque demand exceeds that which can be met with just four cylinders, the remaining cylinders need to be fired. These will also require ‘wetting’. At this point you also have to close the throttles at a rate which coincides with the final four coming back into life – this is the tricky bit! Get it right and the driver should feel nothing across the transition, just a change in engine pitch. In all cases, the torque map is used in conjunction with other settings to govern both the fuelling requirements and throttle position.”
The engine torque map is used for a multitude of other processes, such as the pit limiter, rev limiter and downshift control. “The engine torque map is without doubt one of the most important calibrations in the SECU. It really is the reference point. When the driver lifts of the pedal, it’s the engine torque map that decides by how much we close the throttles. When he goes back on power, it’s the engine torque map that stipulates to what point they open. It all works off that map.”
Mark’s South Korean GP Preview
After spending a few days in Tokyo following last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Mark has moved to Mokpo in South Korea for the second part of this Far Eastern double-header. He finished third in the Korean Grand Prix last year, just 0.4s behind Lewis Hamilton, and he’s hoping for another strong performance on Sunday.
“We know the atmosphere isn’t off-the-scale at the Korean International Circuit,” says Mark, “but it’s a good little racetrack. There are some interesting sections and I’m looking forward to getting out there in the car. I had a good little dice with Lewis Hamilton last year, which I enjoyed, and after the pace the RB8 showed at Suzuka I hope we’ll be competitive here.”
Following the lap one incident with Romain Grosjean in Japan, which resulted in Mark finishing only ninth, he now lies 60 points behind world championship leader Fernando Alonso. It leaves him with a very clear objective in Korea.
“If I’m going to keep my world title chances alive,” says Mark, “I have to win on Sunday. There are only five races left and I have to get some good points; I have to recover what I lost at Suzuka. Given that the opposition is so strong, it means having a perfect weekend.”
There are two distinct sections to the Korean International Circuit. The first half of the lap is fast, flowing and contains a 1.2km straight; the second half is more akin to a street track, with some tight corners and walls lining the racetrack.
“Car set-up is a balance between straight-line speed and having enough wing to ensure you’re quick through the corners,” says Mark. “It gives us something to think about, which is good. Now let’s get on with it.”