There are two rules (which I just made up) to follow when creating a new circuit for F1. The first is that if you don't have to build a street circuit, you don't build a street circuit.
The second is that if you're bringing the sport to a new country and want people to go, place the circuit near a major population centre.
Sadly, the people behind the Korea International Circuit—overambitious regional politicians, mainly—broke both those golden rules and built a half street-half proper circuit slap-bang in the middle of nowhere.
It's like they took the locations of Seoul, Busan, Incheon and Daegu (the country's largest cities), found a bit of land an equally far distance away from each and built a race track there.
But despite the unusual placement, the track itself isn't bad. It's particularly challenging for setup, with the teams having to balance the need for high speed on the straights with high downforce through the corners.
Approved as F1-standard only 11 days before the first Korean Grand Prix in 2010, the circuit features several challenging and attractive sections, particularly through sector two.
The final corner always looks nice as well.
Turns 1 and 2
A lap begins on the pit straight, with a medium-length run down to the first corner. Turn 1 is a tight and tricky left-hander and the first overtaking opportunity of the lap.
The drivers allow their cars to drift wide on the exit ready for Turn 2, which follows immediately. Taken at full-throttle, this left-hand kink feeds the cars out onto the very long back straight.
Around 13 seconds after leaving Turn 2, the cars are still on the straight and doing close to 200 miles per hour. They brake hard for Turn 3, which is a slow right-hand hairpin.
This (and along the preceding straight) is the best overtaking spot on the circuit.
Turns 4, 5 and 6
Another straight follows. It's actually quite lengthy, and only looks small because it's next to the main straight.
So if a move didn't quite work out into Turn 3, taking a better exit out of that corner allows another opportunity before the slow hairpin left of Turn 4.
A slow right (Turn 5) and equally slow left (Turn 6) come along next. They don't look especially interesting. But if two cars are close coming out of Turn 4, they can have a decent, wheel-to-wheel battle through here.
Turns 7, 8 and 9
The track climbs and curves slightly to the left along a short straight before the full-throttle right-hander of Turn 7.
The foot stays planted to the floor through Turn 8—a very fast left. A tiny straight follows, before a quick touch of the brakes for another quick left-hander, Turn 9.
Turns 10, 11, 12 and 13
Turn 10 is a slow, downhill left which abruptly puts an end to the fast section. Overtaking may be possible here if a driver is able to take greater speed through the quick corners.
Next up comes the long, tightening double-apex left-hander of Turn 11. The drivers have to compromise the exit slightly to get an optimal line into the right-hand Turn 12.
It's at this point that the track suddenly takes on the characteristics of a street circuit, with the walls closing in around the edges.
Turn 13 is a medium-speed left.
Turns 14, 15 and 16
Despite being the "street" section, this area still has plenty of run-off. Turn 14 is a right-hander taken slightly slower than 13. Then comes the final braking zone of the lap for the slow left-hander of Turn 15.
Turn 16 is a left-hander taken with just a tiny lift of the throttle.
A lap ends with what looks like the circuit's most fun corner, Turn 17. The cars accelerate through this long, fast right-hander, having to maintain a perfect line for when the corner abruptly ends with a left-handed flick (Turn 18).
We're now back on the pit straight and the start/finish line is a few hundred metres down the road.
The Pit Lane
The pit lane entry is parked on the inside of Turn 17. It used to be in the middle of the corner on the racing line, so despite not being ideal, the current location is an improvement.
The exit is just as bad. Originally it fed out right into the outside of Turn 1, which was horribly dangerous.
It now passes around the outside of Turn 1's run-off area and feeds back onto the track at the exit of Turn 2. It's not perfect, and the exit is still the racing line, but it's better than it was before.