Karun Chandhok became the first man to drive a Formula One car around the all-new Korean International Circuit (KIC) on Saturday when he got behind the wheel of a Red Bull as part of a special demonstration event.
In front of 4000 spectators, Chandhok - on loan from regular team HRT - completed 14 laps of the Yeongam venue, which will host the inaugural Korean Grand Prix on October 22-24. The ‘Circuit Run 2010’ also included demonstration laps by Formula BMW and Korean touring cars.
Former Red Bull Junior Team member Chandok drove the Red Bull car as the team‘s regular drivers were unavailable due to other commitments.
“It’s a really interesting layout,” the Indian said after the run. “The track’s got a good mix of corners and I think we’ll see a lot of overtaking in the first sector - there are long straights into slow hairpins. The straight after turn one and two is really long, so we may see some good slip streaming there, like in Shanghai. From turn seven onwards, there’s a fast section of flowing corners all the way back to the start-finish line - so I think the Red Bull Racing guys will be happy in sectors two and three.”
Chandhok’s successful run at the circuit should halt media speculation over its completion and the 26 year-old said he saw no reason the venue would not be finished in time for next month’s race.
“Looking at the facilities, the garages and team buildings look pretty much finished and they’re big! I think teams will need to bring around 30% more furniture to fill them! The grandstands also look reasonably finished. The track itself needs a bit more work on the asphalt and the kerbs, but the organisers think it’s all within their time-lines and are confident that it will be ready on time. And the locations nice, we’re overlooking the sea.”
Race organisers Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) were delighted with the KIC’s first event. “This has been an excellent opportunity for us to fine-tune the facilities ahead of next month’s Grand Prix, and it is exciting to see how enthusiastically the KIC has been received by Korean residents,” said Yung Cho Chung, KAVO CEO.
“There’s certainly some enthusiasm for F1 here,” added Chandhok. “There are a lot of people at the event today, which wasn’t heavily publicised, and there’s a lot of media, which shows an interest. The organisers say they have sold a significant amount of tickets, so it should be a good race. It’s been great to drive the Red Bull car again and thanks to my team, HRT F1, for letting me complete this demonstration run.”