It would be safe to say that the build-up to the race has been filled with controversy. Like the recent and much maligned Commonwealth Games in Delhi, there have been constant reports that the Yeongham circuit would not be ready in time. Up until a few weeks ago, grandstands were incomplete, garages lay half built and the final layer of tarmac was not laid until just over one week ago.
Whereas races have gone ahead with incomplete facilities before, it is unheard of for tarmac to go down on a track so late and be perfectly ready for the race. There are fears that the surface may not have had time to properly cure, leaving the circuit potentially prone to peeling under the forces the Formula 1 cars generate. Should the surface be very slick as a result, then we may find ourselves watching a very interesting race.
Championship leader Mark Webber will be hoping the race will not be interesting. In fact the Australian will probably want as calm a race as possible – preferably with him out front. Despite extending his lead ever so slightly in Japan, Webber has not won since Hungary at the start of August and will be hoping to claim his 7th Formula 1 race win ahead of the on form Vettel and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).
To say that Alonso is on a strong run would be something of an understatement. The Spaniard has claimed five podium in the last six races (he failed to finish in Belgium) including two victories, although he is level on points with Vettel.
As for the McLaren’s, it’s not looking good. 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and reigning title holder Jenson Button are 28 and 31 points in arrears of Webber respectively and may need a miracle to plug that gap back. However, the increasing uncertainty of the track surface at Korea may produce the oddball race they need to stay in the hunt – regardless, both need to win with the other title contenders either retiring or having poor runs.
It’s unlikely – not impossible mind, but unlikely.
While not challenging for the World Championship, Nico Rosberg may have something to celebrate after the chequered flag this weekend. The young German is on the verge of officially defeating his veteran team mate Michael Schumacher, as Rosberg holds a 68 point advantage over the seven-times World Champion.
It could potentially be a momentous occasion for Rosberg – whose father was the 1982 World Champion – as Schumacher has defeated every team mate he has ever had, when running a full season. After 55 laps in Yeongam, that record of Schumacher’s may finally be broken.
This could also be a big weekend for Virgin. Despite having a much faster car, they are still behind Hispania in the Constructor’s and are increasingly facing the ignominy of finish the season in last place and if Korea does turn out to be an oddball event, then it may be their last chance to claim the necessary 13th place to avoid a wooden spoon.