The all-new Korea International Circuit has been subtly altered ahead of third and final free practice following complaints from the drivers on the opening day of the inaugural Korean Grand Prix.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed that changes were needed at turn 16, and also allowed the usual convention for cars entering the pits to be waived for this weekend's event after concerns that the blind entry could cause an accident on race day.
Amid reports that cars were 'bottoming-out' at turn 16, and observations that the drivers were using every inch of the shallow kerb - and more - both there and two corners later, Whiting instructed the circuit to fill the kerbs to encourage proper use of the racing line. A perimeter wall at turn 16, where the traditional road course section morphs into a street circuit in anticipation of the commercial and residential development planned for Yeongam, was also moved back overnight after concerns that it might prove hazardous.
Following complaints about the blind, but still flat-out, approach to the pit entry, the drivers have been told that they can ignore the rule about remaining within the white line the marks the route to the pits, and can now cut in from the racing line to avoid the speed differential that caused the most concern. They have also been given leeway to ignore the white line on exit in order to avoid the dust that lies off-line. Usually, transgressing in this way would earn a drive-thru' penalty.
The dust proved a major headache on day one, with Lewis Hamilton, amongst others, reporting that KIC was the dirtiest circuit he had ever raced on, but the Briton should be happy with the work carried out overnight.
"When walking it [on Thursday], you could see how much work they've done over the last few weeks - even the army was here for support - and the track itself is really good to drive and very smooth, even though it's a bit bumpy at certain parts," the McLaren man reported after first practice, "It is very, very high speed, with good straights, and the race promises to be really entertaining for all the fans, [but] the kerbs [at turn 16] are not on the same level as the track. There is a step of over an inch, but I guess it looks more serious on TV than it actually is in the car."