Karun Chandhok impressed by first taste of Korea track
Chandhok says the Koreans have assured him the track will be ready
By Sarah Holt
Hispania Racing's Karun Chandhok is optimistic the Yeongam circuit will be ready in time to host the inaugural Korean Grand Prix on 24 October.
Chandhok became the first F1 driver to run on the new track, completing 14 laps in a Red Bull car on Saturday.
"Everyone has been a bit doom and gloom about it but it's actually not that bad," the Indian racer told BBC Sport.
"The organisers think it's all within their timelines and are confident that it will be ready on time."
A final official track inspection will take place on 21 September, only 32 days before the F1 cars are due out on the Yeongam circuit for the first time.
There has been growing speculation as to whether the scheduled race will go ahead because of delays in construction, in particular to the track surface.
After running the rule over the circuit, Chandhok said there is still some catch-up work to do but added that the organisers believe the circuit will be ready for Korea to make its bow on the F1 calendar.
"If they do everything they have told me that they are going to do then yes [it will be ready on time]," Chandhok continued.
"They've got to a point now and it is almost like they are doing touch-up work.
"They need to put another coating of top surface on the asphalt, the kerbs need some work and there are a few bumps to sort out.
"The garages are finished and the pit buildings, which look over the sea, are enormous - I've lived in smaller houses!
"The main grandstand is finished although they need to put up other temporary grandstands because they don't have time to put up any more permanent ones.
"Admittedly, the circuit isn't completed yet but there is a circuit for us to drive around."
The Korean circuit is the only new venue on the F1 calendar this season and has been designed by Hermann Tilke, the man behind the layouts of the new tracks in Malaysia, China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
And Chandhok has said the 3.49-mile Korean International Circuit should provide an exciting test for the drivers.
Chandhok has had a taste of the new circuit before any other driver
"The circuit is pretty cool to drive," the 26-year-old reflected. "The layout is really quite interesting.
"The first bit of the lap is mega long straights and then from Turn Seven onwards it's feisty, fast-flying stuff.
"From there, it's high-speed, circles up-and-down a bit and the walls are quite close to the circuit, similar to how they are in Valencia with Turns Eight and Nine like the new Abbey complex at Silverstone.
"It is really humid at the moment, although the organisers say it won't be as bad when the race comes.
"But if it stays like this it will be a pretty tough race and humidity will definitely play a part."
Chandhok's chances of taking part in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix remain subject to Hispania's driver-rotation policy.
He has not regained his race seat since being replaced by Japan's Sakon Yamamoto in July's German Grand Prix.
"I'd love to be back in the car but it's a team decision and they have to consider the position they're in," stated Chandhok. "I'm still hopeful."
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