Daily Archives: October 23, 2010

White line rule dropped for Korea

Following complaints from the drivers about the safety at pit lane entry and exit, the stewards and officials have decided to drop the white line rule for the Korean Grand Prix.

The pit lane entry for the Yeongam circuit is just after a very fast right hander, and cars pitting are currently forced to slow in the middle of that corner in order to pit, creating a very dangerous situation if there is a car behind.

As well as this, the pit lane exit deposits the cars in the middle of Turn 2, a fast left-hander for the cars. Therefore, if a car runs wide or goes too fast over Turn 2, they could possible create a nasty accident with any car leaving the pits.

Because of this, the white line rule has been ditched for this weekend. The white line rule states that a car cannot cross the white lines while entering or exiting the pit lane. Generally this is to create a safe passage in and out of the pits, but the poor design around the pit lane has forced this decision.

Lewis Hamilton stated how the situation was for the drivers on Friday and Saturday:

"As you come out, the cars that have come around the corner 
out of turn one, they are in your blind spot, you don't even 
know if they are there."

"Every time you come out you are trying to see if there's 
anyone there, plus you have to get straight on to the racing 
line...I think in the race it will be interesting to see how 
everyone deals with it."

"You just have to go for it really and hope for the best, 
I would say."

While this doesn’t make too much change to pit lane exit, as you couldn’t exactly drive onto the grass to avoid an accident there, this will make pitting in much safer. During qualifying, we saw what can happen if a driver goes full throttle into pit lane entry with heavy steering, with Hamilton losing control, running over the grass and getting far too close with the barriers.

For the race, we should expect to see drivers go full throttle as usual, but they will run slightly wide into the pit lane, and then slow down, rather than brake on the racing line. It is clearly a good move by the stewards, but it surely could have been avoided by better circuit planning, in my opinion.

Vettel heads Red Bull 1-2 in Korean qualifying

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Korean Grand Prix, a few hundreths of a second ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, for the 8th time this season. They both stormed ahead of Fernando Alonso in the closing minutes of Q3 in qualifying.

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso after qualifying

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso after qualifying

Q1

At the top,  Alonso, Vettel and Webber were all separated by a few hundreths of a second. For most of the session, Fernando stayed on top, while the Red Bulls were yet to show their true pace.

Further back, several cars were involved in the battle to progress to Q2. Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitantonio Liuzzi all held 18th position at certain points, until the Force India driver was unable to improve on his lap time, and was knocked out of Q1.

Jarno Trulli was the fastest of the new teams, followed by Timo Glock, who was on the pace all weekend, before a spin damaged his momentum. Heikki Kovalainen was 21st, Lucas di Grassi 22nd, Sakon Yamamoto 23rd and Bruno Senna 8 tenths slower in last place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Vitantonio Liuzzi

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Timo Glock

21) Heikki Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Sakon Yamamoto

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Within minutes of Q2 beginning, it was apparent how much pace Red Bull were hiding, as Vettel and Webber easily took the top of the timesheets. This time around, Webber was 4 hundreths faster than Sebastian. Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton were within 1 tenth behind.

Vitaly Petrov spun, and only got 15th, and with his penalty after Suzuka, will start 20th. Both Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld went out for only 1 run at the end, but neither got through to Q3.

Both Toro Rossos struggled for pace, while Nico Hulkenberg was 11th, only 1 tenth slower than his team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nick Heidfeld

14) Adrian Sutil

15) Vitaly Petrov

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Sebastien Buemi

Q3

Fernando Alonso was the first to get the ball rolling, and with a record time in sector 1, was well on course for provisional pole. He improved again on his second run, but the Red Bulls soon put a stop to that. Within the dying few minutes, Vettel went 1st, and then Webber got within 7 hundreths of that time to lock out the front row.

Further back, Lewis Hamilton was 3 tenths slower in 4th, Nico Rosberg did well for 5th, and Felipe Massa couldn’t get near his team-mate in 6th place. Jenson Button and Robert Kubica never got the best out of their cars in 7th and 8th, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello filled the top 10.

While they may have the front row filled, there are several problems in the way of a 1-2 race finish. First of all, the row which Webber starts on will be very dusty, leading to a probable bad start. Also, their race pace has never been as good as qualifying pace, and to make matters worse, there is a chance of some rain…

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