Countdown underway for third F1 Korean Grand Prix
With the third Formula One (F1) Korean Grand Prix a month away, organizers on Thursday said they're ready to offer more entertaining competition and a more convenient experience for spectators and visitors.
The Korean Grand Prix, the only annual F1 stop in the country, will kick off with two practice runs on Oct. 12 in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, about 400 kilometers south of Seoul. The second day will include the third practice session followed by the qualifying race. The final race is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Oct. 14.
It will be the 16th among 20 races in the current F1 season, and is part of the F1's Asia swing late in the season that also covers Singapore, Japan, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Organizing officials said they have learned from the experience of having hosted two races.
"For this third event, you can all count on having more fun at the race," the organizing committee said in a statement. "Our goal is to provide high-quality service for spectators with thorough planning and measures to improve our race operations."
The inaugural event was so poorly managed that the chief organizer was dismissed in January 2011, three months after the race. The racing track in Yeongam was only completed two weeks prior to the first event and approved by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) just 10 days before the race. Organizers gave away thousands of free tickets and offered a 50 percent discount on others to help fill seats. Builders couldn't complete construction of seating areas on time other than the grandstands, and the safety of makeshift seats came into question.
The 2011 race was regarded as a better run event. Organizers opened more facilities for fans and paved more accessible roads connecting nearby highways and the circuit's parking lots. More accommodations were available for tourists and media compared to a year earlier.
For 2012, organizers said an additional 132 accommodations, including traditional Korean houses for bed and breakfasts, will open for the race. A Web site providing information on accommodation can be reached at http://f1lod.koreangp.kr. It's available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese.
The F1, the world's most prestigious open-wheel racing circuit, attracts millions of fans and television viewers worldwide. This year, F1 is set to make 23 global stops. The season kicked off in Melbourne, Australia, on March 16 and has since made stops in places such as Malaysia, China, Spain, Canada, Italy, Britain and Belgium.
The Korean Grand Prix is under a seven-year deal with F1, plus a five-year option.
Fernando Alonso of Spain was the inaugural champion in South Korea, followed by Sebastien Vettel of Germany last year. Alonso is leading all drivers this season with 179 overall points, 37 better than Lewis Hamilton of Britain in second. Alonso and Hamilton have each won three races this season,
Vettel, the two-time defending overall champion, is in fourth at 140 points.(Yonhap)