Busy day for Sauber with lower grip than expected

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F1 Grand Prix, GP South Korea, Korean International Circuitkr

After some very careful familiarisation laps in the morning, the brand new tarmac of the Korean International Circuit in Mokpo started to develop some grip, and both free practice sessions went okay for Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld. Both the Japanese and the German praised the lay-out of the new circuit.

Kamui Kobayashi:
C29.04 / Ferrari 056
1st Practice: 13th / 1:43.309 min (20 laps) / 2nd Practice: 10th / 1:39.564 min (26 laps)
“The track is quite nice. It is challenging, and the last sector especially is difficult but nice to drive. The only problem is the surface is still too slippery. Tyre graining is massive with both compounds. In the first session we started my programme quite early before the track had improved a bit, and my tyres were completely gone. That’s why I stopped a few minutes early. “

Nick Heidfeld:
C29.03 / Ferrari 056
1st Practice: 8th / 1:42.293 (18 laps) / 2nd Practice: 11th / 1:39.588 min (25 laps)
“We expected the track to have a very low grip level in the beginning, but it was even lower than we thought. We started with lap times around two minutes, but then the grease and dirt started to disappear, rubber was laid and the circuit started to be really good fun. It is nice it has a lay-out with corner combinations. This means you need to get the first one right to get into the flow for the following ones, and I like that. The harder tyres took a long time to warm up, while even with the softer compound the first lap wasn’t the quickest. Very soon after we reached the right temperature the tyres started graining. I hope this problem will lessen as the grip level improves. I am happy we had a dry and trouble free day to work on the set-up. We learned more and I can see potential to improve it.”

James Key, Technical Director:
“Not surprisingly it was a busy day learning this new track. As we expected it was very, very slippery in the beginning with the new tarmac having just been laid down. It was quite difficult for the drivers and the engineers to know exactly what issues we had to look at, because the lap times improved very significantly all through the session. But we did our best to go through some set-up changes to get a feel for what the car is responding to. We made some mechanical changes on both cars and did some aerodynamic tests on Kamui’s. In the afternoon the track had more grip and was more consistent, so we were able to do a standard programme. We looked at some downforce levels and further set-up changes from the morning, and we evaluated the prime and the option tyres to see how they are performing. There is still a lot to understand, so we are going to be very busy tonight analysing all the data. Overall we are happy with the day, the drivers seem to be fairly comfortable, and I think the track is really good. It looks like a drivers’ circuit. Hopefully we can maintain our momentum tomorrow.”