2 October 2013
Korean Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Short-lived Grand Prix circuits
Heading to one of the newest circuits on the F1 calendar, Crash.net columnist Will Saunders explores those venues that failed to make a long-term impression on the sport…
The Korea International Circuit at Yeongam is one of the least-loved circuits on the contemporary F1 calendar.
A remote Tilkedrome seemingly clad in a permanent state of grey, with an uninspiring layout around an underdeveloped marina playing host to usually tepid racing in front of an almost uniquely uninterested crowd, it's safe to say that the Korean Grand Prix has yet to capture the imagination of the F1 circus.
With perennial doubts about Korea's ability to fulfill its commercial obligations casting fresh aspersions on the likelihood of the recently announced 2014 race, the chances of the Korean Grand Prix running the duration of its projected agreement through 2021 seem optimistic at best.
Still, this weekend stands set to see the fourth coming of Yeongam as a Formula One destination, which is more than can be said for these six short-lived, rarely lamented, ghosts from Grand Prix racing's past…
Tananka International Circuit, Aida, Pacific Grand Prix, 1994-95:
One of many failed early attempts to broaden the international scope of Formula 1 came in the mid-90s, when the Tanaka International Aida circuit in Japan was awarded a race under the moniker of the Pacific Grand Prix. The idea was to capitalize on Japan's ardent enthusiasm for F1 with an early championship round, bookending the European season with trips to the Far East.
Built at a cost of £61 million as a vanity project by golf course mogul Hajime Tanaka, the TI Circuit set new benchmarks for remoteness; deep in the mountainous Aida countryside and surrounded by endless undulating woods and scrublands. The circuit was 12 miles along narrow roads from the nearest town, and accommodation for fans and team personnel was scarce – leaving many having to travel up to 40 miles to access the track.
Upon arrival, the circuit itself failed to set the drivers' pulses racing. A short, narrow and twisting 3.7km of uninspiring sprints between a succession of tight corners, the TI circuit's sub-Tilke layout was not conducive to close quarters combat, nor demanding enough to prove a supreme test of drivers' skills.
Michael Schumacher was F1's sole victor in Aida, coasting to victory in 1994 after a first corner collision took out pole-sitter Ayrton Senna, and repeating the trick in 1995 by blitzing the Williams pair of David Coulthard and Damon Hill to seal his second world title.
When the 1995 race moved from its spring billing after the devastating Kobe earthquake to form part one of a Japanese double-header, the back-to-back comparison with Suzuka did Aida no favours. The fans voted with their feet, and the race was quietly dropped for 1996 - leaving the TI Circuit as one of the least inspiring canvasses ever to be blessed with the brushstrokes of a Grand Prix World Championship race.
Pescara Circuit, Pescara Grand Prix, 1957:
Officially the longest circuit ever used for a championship Grand Prix at 16 miles, Pescara can also lay claim to the unofficial title of most dangerous; a death-defying jaunt along narrow coastal roads surrounding the picturesque seaside town of Pescara on the Italian Adriatic Coast.
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