The Grand Prix of Korea, is it really necessary?
The Formula 1 calendar is an epic collection of racing spanning the globe. The 10 month season is one of the longest in any sport and 2012 hopes to expand upon that. With a schedule so packed, it’s only natural to wonder how valuable some races actually are.
Last weekend saw the return of the Grand Prix of Korea, a race still in it’s infancy. There have been numerous complaints about the track, specifically the pit entrance and exit. Both have been criticized by the drivers and the teams. The exit is particularly hairy, as it opens right into turn 1 of the track. The lack of runoff and excessively close barriers, have also been complaints. The track’s location, 400 km outside of Korea’s capital in Seoul, has made the event a difficult sell. The inability to get people to the race, has impacted ticket sales. There have been reports that the race is already in financial trouble. For anyone watching, that became pretty obvious as the circuit still appeared to be under construction. After the race’s running in 2010, the gates were closed and the track forgotten about. Upon returning for 2011, teams discovered last year’s food, left in the refrigerators or their suites.
So could we be looking at the Grand Prix of Turkey all over again? Track in the boonies, falling ticket sales and poor attendance; it sure seems like it. For the most part the racing has been uninspired. Many have said that it’s one of the most boring on the calendar. I would have to agree. Apart from the Grand Prix of Europe, I can’t think of another race that left me wanting more. Valencia is notorious for being little more than a practice session for the teams and it appears Korea could be filling that role as well. You don’t even get a sense the fans care for the sport either. In places like Monza and Suzuka, the Formula 1 grand prix is practically a holiday. In Korea it seems to be little more than an exhibition. At Friday practice, the stands were virtually empty. The weather certainly played a part in that, but it hasn’t stopped the fans at other tracks like Spa. I suppose time will be the telling factor. It just seems that with an overly crowded schedule, some cutting should occur.
To put it frankly, it’s a dreadful race on a poorly designed track, in the middle of nowhere.
Photos courtesy of Sutton Images & Virgin Racing.