x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Ecclestone pleased with Korean track

Bernie Ecclestone put his seal of approval on South Korea's new grand prix circuit, even as an army of workers installed seats and applied final coats of paint.

Bernie Ecclestone put his seal of approval on South Korea's new grand prix circuit yesterday, even as an army of workers installed seats and applied final coats of paint.

Local organisers said they expected a 100,000 strong crowd for Sunday's inaugural race, with enough seating in place for 10,000 more.

"Considering what it was and what they've had to do, and it's not been easy to do this event, I think they've done a good job," the Formula One chief told reporters on a visit to the circuit media centre.

"It's all there. If there hadn't have been all the bad weather then it would have been done a long time ago."

The race, 17th of 19 this season, had looked in doubt only a few weeks ago with the final layer of asphalt still to be laid and an official inspection by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) repeatedly postponed.

"I was not worried because I had some information from upstairs that they would get it done, and they have got it done in the end," said Ecclestone.

"It would have been bad for Korea if it didn't happen, so they have made sure it happened.

"I get really upset because when you look at these facilities, and you look at some of the places we go to and have been in the past, you can see what it took to build Formula One to what it is today."

Parts of the circuit still resembled a building site, with hard-hatted workers and army soldiers bolting seats onto grandstands and others tiling a Korean-style bridge across the main straight.

Chung Yung-cho, chief executive of Korea Auto Valley Operations and chairman of the Korea Automobile Racing Association, told Reuters that a big crowd was expected.

"On Sunday we hopefully fill it up but I think we have 100,000 people," he said.

"I heard we had sold about 90,000 so far (for Sunday). About 50-60,000 on Saturday. We have not issued any standing tickets yet.

"We want to sell out the seats first," he added.