Inaugural Korean Grand Prix: So Disappoint!

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Going into it,  I was very excited about Formula One coming to Korea but also aware that there could be teething problems. There was concern beforehand that the track wouldn’t be ready on time. The organisers managed to complete the track and the minimum safety requirements needed for the race to go ahead. But they did little else beyond that. Their excuses centred on it raining a lot during the summer season. To them I reply, _it rains a lot EVERY summer season_.

Lots of images, so hit the

Getting to and from the circuit was like traversing a war zone. There was vast, dusty areas that were used for car-parking. While it was dry it was really dusty. I’m sure the plan is to one day asphalt it all down and it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t done before last weekend. When it rained on Saturday night and through into Sunday the dusty ground turned to mud. This is what we walked through to get to the grandstands.

The grandstand that we bought tickets for, several months before, had not been completed. Here is a foto of it.

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Ja stand is in the middle, the one with no seats. None of those stands in the foto were used. The digital screens were too far away/too small to be useful and the leader boards seen in some of the pics to come didn’t work. The main grandstand was really the only one that was sorted to an adequate level. It cost just under $1000 to get a ticket for there though.

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<em>”Hold on here,  this bandstand wasn’t doublebolted!”</em> – H stand.

I know KAVO, the organisers, aren’t responsible for the weather, but sitting outside in the rain all day was a bit of a bummer. Starting the race late is one thing, but having it go the full distance was a strange and dangerous decision on race control’s part. The race finished at 6pm in near-darkness — way too dark for F1 cars to be zooming around in.

For me personally, it was a bummer all round because Webber crashed out. I didn’t get home til 10mins before it was time to get off to work on Monday morning. All this sounds pretty negative but in total it was one of those events that would’ve been far better to see on TV. And for me it was a learning experience. It’s been a while since I’d been outside my comfort zone and really been pushed by external circumstances. I can say at least that I didn’t punch anyone out. It wasn’t until the very end on Sunday night that it clicked and I realised that the source of a lot of my frustration was that I was treating it wrong. ‘It’ being getting away from the circuit with 60,000 other people and absolutely no regulating authorities. I had been thinking, this is korea, and had been hoping that people would act civilly, but really I should’ve changed gears and gone about it like I was in Vietnam or India – pushing, shoving, yelling and whatever else it took to get on a bus and away.

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On Friday for Free Practice 2 we got to sit in the main grandstand, which was really nice. It was really loud and many people hadn’t brought earplugs.

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In H stand for Qualifying on Saturday arvo. The view wasn’t as good but still not very crowded.

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About a quarter of the race was done behind the safety car. For the race day we got into F-stand which had a slightly better view. Actually, I found that as the slightly irate or put-out foriegner I was able to talk my way into several places and wager I may have been able to slip my way into the main grandstand but it would’ve been harder to get J-e in there. What a great girlfriend — racing is not her passion but she was happy to come along and only got a little pissed when we were stumbling around in the mud and darkness on Sunday night looking for a but that’d get us back to Mokpo bus terminal so we could get back to seoul/cheongju on time to get to work the next day.

It’s hard to say what the Koreans around me thought of it. They seemed happy bringing their picnic kimbabs and seeing the cars trundling past behind the safety car. It’s hard to visually convey how dark it was when they finished the race.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5113784588/” title=”IMG_5669 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1169/5113784588_a3e0376089.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”IMG_5669″ /></a>

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