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F1 Advent Calendar 2010 (Day 22) - Making tracks // The Korean Grand Prix gets underway, despite delays

Published by Christine

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Hello everyone, welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2010 brought to you by Sidepodcast. We're running through the season just gone in bitesize chunks, but we are rapidly reaching the end of the season now. Yesterday we talked about the Japanese Grand Prix, and today, well, you'll have to keep listening to find out. This is Day 22 - Making tracks.

It wasn't until about a week before the Korean GP was due to take place, that we knew it was officially on. The building of the track had been delayed by all manner of problems, including a long, long monsoon season, and the organisers were scrabbling about to get it finished. There were also political tensions that even Bernie Ecclestone was sitting up and taking notice of.

All that aside though, the race was confirmed and the teams, drivers, journalists and fans turned up at Yeongam to get things started. There were still workers tweaking bits of the track as the week went on, and it was fun to see photographs of the grid markings being painted on so close to the action getting underway.

It was all very last minute, but it was coming together.

After Free Practice, most drivers admitted to being pleasantly surprised at the track, both by it's condition and the layout. I suspect we had all been expecting a repeat of the impossibly dull Abu Dhabi. There were a few requests for changes that the FIA approved overnight, and qualifying day was nice and dry too. You'll never guess who got pole position, it was only that Sebastian Vettel chap again, with Webber lining up beside him on the grid.

The trouble is, by the time Sunday arrived, the weather had turned. It was raining on and off, and the brand new tarmac on the circuit wasn't handling the wet conditions well. Equally there were drainage issues that made things worse.

So, the race started under the Safety Car, and lasted three laps before it was red flagged. The cars lined up on the grid again, with some drivers staying in their cars, and others getting out and having a wander around. About forty minutes later, the race started again, still behind the Safety Car. We heard lots and lots of team radio with the pit wall asking their drivers to say how the conditions were. As you can imagine, those at the front were saying it was pretty damp and visibility was poor, whilst further back Lewis Hamilton was practically begging histeam for a chance to race. At one point he asked if other people were complaining and responded: "It's a wet race, what do they expect?"

Eventually, after 13 laps, Hamilton got his wish, and the race began proper. In a slightly embarrassing moment, the minute the restart happened, Lewis was overtaken by Nico Rosberg. Oops. Having qualified on the front two spots of the grid, the Red Bull team saw a terrible end to the weekend. Webber lost control of the car in the damp conditions, and spun from one side of the track to the other. Alonso managed to avoid the spinning car, but Webber did take out Rosberg as he went by. Another Safety Car was called for.

It came out a third time for a collision between Buemi and Glock, and left Alonso and Hamilton battling for second place. A slow stop from Ferrari saw Lewis get ahead, but then once the Safety Car had gone, he ran wide and allowed Fernando back through. This became a crucial move as about ten laps from the end, Vettel's engine blew up and he was out of the race. Alonso's second place became the lead, with Hamilton picking up second and Massa taking third. This was Red Bull's only double DNF, and the only race of the year where they scored zero points. Not a bad statistic, but it could not have come at a worse time.

With just two races to go, Alonso took the lead of the championship, with Webber second, and Hamilton ten points off the Red Bull. Vettel was sitting down in fourth. All still in with a chance, but things were starting to mix up nicely.

That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. What are your thoughts on the debut of the Korean GP this year? Good, bad, indifferent? Why not share them in the comments on sidepodcast.com? I will be back tomorrow with Day 23.