The Force India F1 Team broke new ground today as it completed its first-ever laps of the all new Yeongam circuit in South Korea as the first day of practice got underway. With this being a brand new circuit, the focus for the two 90 minute sessions was to learn the 5.621km track, monitor the evolving grip levels and assess set-up options.
Since this is the first time the track has been used by any cars since the final layer of tarmac went down, lap times tumbled as the day progressed. Adrian and Tonio bettered their times by around four seconds over the day and were able to conclude a solid programme to establish a baseline for the weekend.
Adrian Sutil (car 14): "Learning the new track was a real pleasure today. It has a nice flow and some great corners, particularly in the last sector where it bends into the pit straight. For a modern track it has got a lot of character and once we got some grip down it was fun to put the laps in. It got much quicker over the day and we know there is still a lot more to come so part of the challenge today was trying to keep up with those changes. We had a good programme today to get up to speed with the track and everything worked to plan. I didn't do so many laps on the long runs but we have a lot of good and useful information we can use over the weekend. A good day overall."
Tonio Liuzzi (car 15): "The track was really interesting and fun to drive. The grip for the first 15mins of FP1 was so low it was hard to keep the car on track but after that it was OK and improved all the time. Offline though it is still very dirty and slippery and in the race overtaking will be hard as if you go off the rubber you'll just slide. The programme went well today - we just had a very small problem in the final sector of the final lap of the day when the car started to pull to one side, but it was really nothing to worry about and we just stopped the session a few minutes before. It's difficult to get a clear picture on the tyres at the moment as the graining is really high and I think everybody is struggling with consistency on the long runs, particularly on the soft tyres. In general I think we have a good idea on the balance and the direction to go on the set up with both tyre compounds so it's been a positive start to the weekend."
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer: ""A very good first day of practice at the Korea circuit. It is an impressive track, with an exciting layout that offers different challenges through the three sectors. It's really proven to be as our simulations predicted and we've gathered plenty of data which we can now use to further validate and refine those initial results. There was some graining on the prime tyre and we found the option offered better grip. Tonio had a problem at the rear of the car during his final outing and stopped the car as a precaution, but otherwise it was a fairly normal and productive day. We tested some new parts that have behaved as we intended and, together with a few changes we plan to make overnight, we are looking forward to the rest of this first Korean Grand Prix weekend."