It is expected that the race order after the first few corners in Korea on Sunday will set the scene for the chequered flag.
Although the weather and the durability of the tyres are expected to play a role at Yeongam, arguably the biggest factor will be the dubious performance of the Red Bull cars on the 1.2 kilometre straight after turn 2.
“It’s so long you could drink a couple of beers,” joked Sebastian Vettel ruefully.
“There is not much we can do (there), so we have to fight back even harder in the corners,” added the German, whose RB6 qualified immediately ahead of his teammate Mark Webber on the front row.
And to make things worse for championship leader Webber, he is on perhaps the dirtiest side of the grid seen all season for the start, and therefore expecting a “pretty solid” challenge from Fernando Alonso into turn 1.
Team boss Christian Horner also acknowledged the importance of the first lap.
“The start and the first two straights will be crucial,” he said. “As long as we are okay by turn 4, we have a good chance.”
But after the start-finish straight, and the huge 1.2km straight, there is yet another long straight. Ralf Schumacher thinks the superior top speed of Red Bull’s chasers will be decisive on lap 1.
“I can’t see Red Bull winning,” the German, in Korea to commentate for German television, told Bild newspaper.
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