x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Confidence in South Korea as decision looms

'Positive remarks' reported from track inspection and the Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone says race will go on.

Bernie Ecclestone says Korea race will happen.
Bernie Ecclestone says Korea race will happen.

A decision on whether or not the inaugural South Korean Grand Prix will take place is to be announced tomorrow. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) yesterday began an inspection of the track for South Korea's first Formula One event, less than two weeks before the race is scheduled to take place on October 24.

The inspection came two days after contractors completed work on the surface of the track built by the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) at the site, which is 320 kilometres south of Seoul. It was led by Charlie Whiting, the FIA technical director, Kim Jae-Ho, a KAVO spokesman said. "Whiting, going on foot, has been checking every corner of the track," he said. "So far we have received positive remarks from him, and we are confident that the track will pass the inspection which focused on its safety and appropriateness."

Doubts had been raised whether the new circuit would be completed ahead of the race, after reports that the building of the facility was behind schedule, and that the track surface had not been laid properly. But Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo, has remained confident the event will happen. "They had problems but have done wonders in the last few weeks," he told The Daily Express in Britain. "I will be there, the world will be watching, and we will have a great race. I've seen photographs and the top layer of the track has been laid. They will pass the inspection."

The race is crucial for the world championship, with Mark Webber, the leader of the drivers' standings, holding a 14 point advantage over Sebastian Vettel, his Red Bull-Renualt teammate, and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with the McLaren-Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button a further 28 and 31 points behind respectively. Following South Korea the final two races of the season are in Brazil on November 7 and in Abu Dhabi on November 14.