KOREAN GRAND PRIXVIEW
Don't panic: it's Korea, not the dark side of the Moon
Scuderia Toro Rosso is totally supportive of the Korean Grand Prix and is delighted to be part of Formula 1's advance guard travelling to yet another new frontier in the Grand Prix cosmos. However,
even before we get there, we have heard concerns and complaints about this new race from some quarters, because much of the Formula 1 world is so old fashioned and set in its ways. We have heard people worry about what they are going to eat, where they will stay, the condition of the roads leading to the circuit and will the hotels be adequate? They are worried that the circuit is off the beaten track and hard to get to and so the list goes on, but forgive us for pointing out that these are concerns raised every year when it comes to one of the "Grandes Epreuves" on the calendar, one of the oldest races that makes up the championship, the British Grand Prix.
Next, we have people suggesting that there might be problems with the track surface, as this is a new venue and the asphalt has not had sufficient time to cure. Of course, something as iniquitous as this would never happen in Europe in the home of motor racing. But wait a moment, what about the Belgian Grand Prix held at the mythical Spa-Francorchamps circuit? Didn't that race have to be cancelled a few decades ago when the surface crumbled?
Then there are suggestions that the facilities in the garages and the paddock might not be fully finished yet and therefore will not match the modern standard required of F1, which we assume means not up to the standard of Melbourne or Sao Paolo perhaps. Anyway, not everything unfinished is necessarily bad: what about Franz Schubert's Unfinished 8th Symphony, one of the composer's most popular works and today considered one of his best. Some things are better left to take their time, such as Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, one of the most famous churches in the world, which has been under construction since 1882 and is not due to be completed until 2026.
Then, the more cowardly among you have suggested there might be a danger implicit in travelling to a country with a next door neighbour occasionally described as volatile and unpredictable. This seems a rather crass remark if one looks at the last few centuries of European history, where not getting on with one's neighbour was seemingly written into the constitution of every country.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso team will be staying in Mokpo, which appears to be a very nice beachside town, even if a recent Korean film called "Mokpu Hangbu", suggests it is famous for organised crime.
If some of you are concerned about what kind of reception you will get from the locals, then this extract from a Korean Teaching Manual suggests they find we Europeans to be a bit over excitable: "Western people show exclamation even over trifles and are moved so easily by things that Koreans aren't effected by. This means they are accustomed to expressing feeling freely and frankly. In Western culture, they start a conversation about the weather when they meet someone for the first time: "It's a lovely day, isn't it?" This is reference to the inclement weather in England. The people who live in an area with nice weather like Korea aren't touched by this kind of thing but Englishmen can be impressed."
Therefore, our advice to you is don't panic and make the most of the experience. At least you will be able to say you were there, the day F1 came to Korea. And if you do have a longish bus ride back to your hotel - but probably not as long as the one when Aida circuit hosted the Pacific Grand Prix - you could always try memorising the names of all 25 players on the Mokpo City FC team who play in Korea's National League. The team was only created in December last year and the ground can hold 5,952 spectators.