Korea passes FIA inspection

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s belief that the Korean Grand Prix would take place was proved correct today when the race was given the green light.

After a two-day track inspection of the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam, 370km south of Seoul, the uncertainty over whether the grand prix on October 24 would be staged has finally been allayed.

Motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, have broken their own rules by giving the go-ahead to the event as venues are supposed to be ready 90 days prior to the staging of a race.

The fact FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting has approved the issue of a safety licence just 10 days ahead of first practice underlines the problems faced in recent months by the race organisers.

Whiting today declared the venue “satisfactory,” to the delight and obvious relief of the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) who at the weekend were still applying the top layer of asphalt to the track.

Overhead photographs released yesterday show that while the circuit and main grandstand are in place, in terms of aesthetics, there is still much to be done, with many other grandstands to be erected.

But it is the track and its safety that were the main causes for concern, and now they have been alleviated, F1 will embrace another new adventure next week.

Yung Cho-chung, KAVO and Korea Automobile Racing Association (KARA) chairman, said: “We are delighted all works are now finished to the complete satisfaction of the FIA.

“We now join the whole of Korea in welcoming the Formula One fraternity to the Korea International Circuit for the first time.

“The KIC has been constructed to the highest standards and will become the epicentre of motorsport in the country.

“We believe the 2010 Korean Grand Prix will be the catalyst to ignite enormous interest in the sport across the nation.”

That is no small thanks to the FIA because under their own rules, failure to host this year’s race would also have resulted in them being excluded from next season’s calendar.

Expressing his gratitude, Yung added: “The FIA has played a crucial role from the very beginning, and provided enormous support in terms of expertise, advice and knowledge.

“KAVO has benefited greatly from the FIA’s tremendous experience, and we are grateful for their guidance.”

For the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the fact the race is on at least aids their title cause.

If the grand prix in Korea had been cancelled, it would have left them facing a mountain to climb given they trail championship leader Mark Webber by 28 and 31 points respectively.

But with 75 points now still to play for, they remain in the hunt, albeit knowing they can ill afford to lose any more ground.

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