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Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix Preview

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Korean International Circuit in Yeongam - Image courtesy of McLaren

Korean International Circuit in Yeongam - Image courtesy of McLaren

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Formula One teams move 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. Round 16 is the Korean Grand Prix, now in its third year, which once again takes place at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam.

The 3.5-mile track is still relatively new, and it’s barely used throughout the year, meaning drivers will likely be presented with a slippery surface this weekend. October is also the rainy season in South Korea so teams should be expecting to use their rain tires at some point during the next 48 hours.

Additionally, in the two Korean races to date, cloudy conditions have led to low track temperatures. That’s made tire warm-up difficult, particularly in qualifying, and the teams are preparing for more of the same this year.

The first half of the track contains several high-speed corners and a 0.75-mile straight, while the end of the lap is tight, twisty and lined by walls. Car setup is a compromise between straight-line speed and low-speed grip. For this race, Pirelli has brought its 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.

So far during the initial practice sessions, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have proven fastest, though Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Jenson Button have also been showing some impressive performance.

Going into qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s eventual race, Fernando Alonso remains on top of the points ladder with 194 points, followed by Sebastian Vettel just four points behind in second place and Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen in third with 157 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing has 324 points to McLaren’s 283 and Ferrari’s 263.
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