10 Ways in which the Korean circuit was different

Well, the first Korean Grand Prix has happened. And what a race it was. A brand new circuit, five Championship contenders and the outskirts of a tropical typhoon.

It’s had quite the cozy feeling to it. Only the very hardcore F1 followers had dared to venture into the unknown. It felt like a small gathering of friends in between big events elsewhere.

It makes me realise that very few of you have had the chance to experience the new circuit in the flesh, so to speak. So let me share with you a few pictures that tell the story of how Mokpo differed from other Grand Prix experiences.

For those who want it all on one page:

Normally one builds a town or a city and then starts adding facilities. Not the Koreans. A medium sized city is planned around the circuit, that now sits in the middle of a giant building pit. As it will for the next seven years or so.

Here's someone painting the berms green. Normally the grass does that, but there wasn't time for it to grow. Builders were busy as cars were doing laps. But they made it. Bunch of deadline junkies, Koreans are.

In fact, they were so late they had to call in the military to help with the last bits. Friendly chaps they were, too. General consensus was these lads were happy to put seats in grandstands instead of serving as North Korean target practice in the DMZ.

The place was built in a swamp. The frenzied building activities brought out snakes in big numbers. I've never seen F1 photographers so reluctant to squat down to take low line-of-sight shots.

And the most expensive, too. Every single team rented only the ground floor. Plenty of room and already costing a fortune for the weekend.

And the most expensive, too. Every single team rented only the ground floor. Plenty of room and already costing a fortune for the weekend.

F1 finally has a dedicated waterside facility again. The last time we had one was Zandvoort, in the seaside dunes near Amsterdam. I'm not counting street circuits, of course. Waterfront circuits have a special atmosphee.

Mokpo is a small town, with relatively few five-star hotels. Finding sufficient accommodation for the entire F1 circus was a bit of a problem. Quite a few ended up in a Love Hotel, with ceiling mirrors and complimentary sex toys.

One reason for the abundance of Love Hotels is that Mokpo is the Mafia capital of Korea. That explains why it's such a safe place. No thefts were reported, nobody got mugged in the back streets. It also explains why the next building phase includes several big casinos.

Korea doesn't have a big motor sports tradition, to put it mildly. And South Jeolla or whatever Mokpo's region is named, has even less. Most spectators saw real race cars for the first time in their lives. This is what F1's mission is all about.

And then there's the circuit itself. Sorry to say that we didn't get to experience what happens when 24 cars are squeezed into two tight corners, right after the start. But it's always good to leave something to find out next year.

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