The Toro Rosso duo of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi said that the new Korean Grand Prix circuit was similar to what they had been led to expect from simulations, but both remarked on the close proximity of the walls in places around the new track.
Friday in Korea was the drivers’ first chance to take their cars out on track. Alguersuari finished the day seventeenth fastest.
“The simulator programme we had for this track has turned out to be one of the closest to the real thing that I have experienced, so our preparation work was useful,” explained the Spaniard. “Even though I spent some time this morning testing some components, I was able to catch up quickly in the afternoon and that was partly down to the simulator.
“Car balance was good and our race pace on a long run was better than I had expected, so I feel we can produce a good performance on Sunday afternoon. As for qualifying, the run we did today was not bad even if I think we can find some speed from the set-up and from getting more knowledge of the new track. The times will come down tomorrow as the track continues to improve but that won't affect our position.
“I like the final corner: very nice, because it is really a driver's corner where you need to take a risk, which can be a bit dangerous as you have walls on both sides. Other parts are also interesting with a mix of different lines and changes of direction.”
Buemi finished the day eighteenth fastest, and agreed that although the recently laid asphalt was still dirty at this point in the weekend, lap times should steadily fall as the race gets closer.
“It's always interesting to discover a new circuit,” he said. “As expected it was really dirty this morning, improving through the day, which you could see in terms of lap times getting quicker all the time. There are still some corners that have remained dirty or where the asphalt is higher than the kerbs.
“We ran with no problems all day and now we have a lot of data to analyse, so we need to find the right direction for tomorrow. The simulator version of this track seems to have been quite close to the real thing and the lap times are what we had expected. Overall, it is a nice circuit: quick with a lot of walls, but interesting.”
Chief Engineer Laurent Mekies praised the layout of the new track, and said that, once some Bridgestone rubber had been laid down, the surface behaved similarly to other circuits:
“A very nice track layout with an interesting mix of high speed corners and a straight long enough hopefully to have some overtaking on Sunday. Overall, it is quite challenging in terms of defining the best set-up. Other than that, it was business as usual for us today, trying to find the best set-up as well as comparing both tyre compounds.
“Obviously, the track changed massively from morning to afternoon; probably the biggest change we have seen this season, which is to be expected on a brand new surface. Towards the end of the three hours, things were pretty much back to where they normally are in terms of tyre behaviour.”