Korean GP: Toro Rosso preview
12 October, 2011
Oct.12 (Toro Rosso) By around 9.30 on Sunday evening in Suzuka, there was hardly any equipment left in the paddock, all of it duly packaged up and sitting in pit lane waiting for the trucks that would take the F1 circus hardware off to the airport, prior to its flight to Korea.
With more and more races now taking place away from the European mothership, packing and unpacking is now almost as much of an art as running the race cars on track. At Scuderia Toro Rosso, everyone mucks in, because since the regulations restricted the number of operational personnel at the track, there is no longer the luxury of having personnel who can just finish work and disappear into the dark night.
When we do unpack it all again at the Korean International Circuit at Yeongam, there won’t be much of a sense of being at a familiar venue, because last year, the circuit was pretty much being built around us and therefore, this year’s event will feel a bit like a first time visit.
That will definitely be the case from a technical point of view, once the cars are on track, as Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies explains: “it is like going to a new venue because, as everyone remembers, there was very heavy rain all weekend, with a long safety car period and the race ending almost in the dark,” recalls the Frenchman. “We therefore go there with a very open mind in terms of set up and how the cars will perform. It was a track where we saw one of the biggest ever track time improvements as it evolved during the few dry periods we had last year, which will make for an interesting time.”
If we have normal dry conditions on Sunday, prepare to see plenty of overtaking, as the layout seems to suggest there’ll be much more passing than witnessed in Suzuka, so it should be very good for the show. “It’s a very high downforce track and we will be running the Soft and Supersoft Pirellis, which is quite an aggressive choice, the same as in Monaco and Singapore but with higher speed corners than those two tracks,” adds Mekies. Comparisons with Monaco and Singapore are apposite as the organisers planned this event as a street race through a town and the layout of the track is reminiscent of this sort of venue with just the one key ingredient missing in the shape of a town for it to run through!
As for the performance of the TR6, the engineers will be working hard to get various updates to work more effectively than they did in Suzuka. “In Japan, we saw a good performance improvement on Friday, but it did not work out quite so positively in qualifying and the race,” reveals Laurent. “We had to remove some of the performance elements that made us look good on Friday, for reliability reasons. We will try again because there is still a tough fight with our closest rivals for our place in the championship table, an interesting mid-field battle that looks like continuing to the very last race of the season.”